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* 1915 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of 

New- York. 


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A TRUTHFUL Life of Bishop Asbury will 
prove a rich contribution to the moral wealth 
of religious literature. It will be a voice of one 
dead, yet speaking with the tenderest pathos 
and deepest solemnity to the Church and the 
world, earnestly summoning them to duty and 
devotion. It will be a beautiful and blessed 
exhibition of the great, and permanent, and 
constantly-augmenting results of faithful minis- 
terial services. It will also be an impressive 


exemplification of- the 1 truth, that while a minis- 
ter should "fee *' a man of one work," he should 
be equally "devoted to every department of 
that work'. ' Bishop * Asbury was not merely a 
preacher, but he took the oversight of the flock. 


He visited pastorally, lie distributed tracts, lie 
aided in building houses of worship, he encour- 
aged religious education, he raised means to 
send ministers to destitute places, and was 
ready to every good word and work. 

His agency in planting, and his influence in 
promoting the progress and perpetuity of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church in the United 
States were primary. I doubt whether it will 
be contended that any other man has contrib- 
uted so much to the weal of Methodism in 

If men who lay the foundations of empires, 
who contribute largely to the prosperity and 
glory of nations, may be properly and usefully 
represented to succeeding generations as worthy 
examples of political sagacity and patriotic 
devotion, may not the eminent servants >f : God 

* - . \ * * ( . " 

who by their wisdom, their labors, their sufier- 

ings, and their piety, planted: ir- ' t ms 'country 

that branch of the Church c/f CKrfet xvhich now 

L . - 

is equal, at least in numbers, in moral forces, 
and religious usefulness, to any denomination in 


the glorious confederacy of Christianity, be 
presented to after generations of Christians, 
in their spirit, their sacrifices, their untiring 
activities, and their heroic achievements, with 

Surely no biographer ever had a more 
admirable character to delineate, or a higher 
sphere of activities to describe, or more blessed 
results to record. 

One of the renowned ancients is reported to 
have said that he would rather posterity should 
inquire why a monument was not erected to 
him, than to ask why one had been erected to 
him. In my early acquaintance with the 
history of our Church I was led involuntarily 
and frequently to inquire, Why has no biogra- 
phy of Bishop Asbury been furnished to the 
Church ? I have often heard brethren, both in 
the ministry and in the laity, express deep 
regret at this omission. My time did not per- 
mit me to examine the manuscript of this work 
sufficiently to justify me in analyzing and 
describing it; but I know that the author 


has the intellectual and literary ability, and I 
believe he has the persevering industry, the 
Christian candor, and the religious sympathy 
to execute the work with fidelity; and when 
thoroughly executed it will place another star 
of first magnitude and of richest effulgence in 
the biographical galaxy of the Church. 



A LIFE OF BISHOP ASBUKY lias long been a desidera- 
tum among the biographies of the Church ; I say the 
Church, meaning to comprehend the entire Christian 
community. For though he was a minister of a sect, 
and a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
yet his labors made a most salutary impression upon 
the Christian community at large, and tended to mold 
the minds and hearts of all that came or shall come 
within their influence into the image of Christ. He 
may therefore be presented as an exemplar of every 
minister of the Lord Jesus, as exhibiting that spirit 
of catholicity which ought to possess and actuate the 
hearts and heads of all who are inducted into the 
sacred office. Such a biography, well written, cannot 
do otherwise than exert a hallowing influence on all 
who examine its pages with a right spirit, in leading 
them forward in the path of obedience, faith, and love, 
and inducing them to make the sacrifice needful to 
enable them to fulfill their ministry with persevering 


diligence, that they may finally finish their " course 
with joy." 

One fault of many biographers is the mingling up 
of every incident, however remotely connected with 
the person concerned, that may have occurred during 
his lifetime, interweaving into his biography events 
and things with which he had little or nothing to do, 
thus making him responsible for things and events 
over which he had little or no control. This method 
belongs more properly to general history, instead of 
the history of an individual. It has been adopted, I 
have often thought, to make up for the barrenness 
of the subject by the introduction of matters quite 
foreign to, or at least but remotely connected with, the 
person whose character and conduct are delineated. 
There are, to be sure, certain great characters which 
have appeared upon the stage of human existence and 
action, which have stamped their character upon the 
world such as Alexander, Bonaparte, and Washing- 
ton among warriors and statesmen, Luther, Armin- 
ius, and Wesley among Christian ministers and re- 
formers with whose lives are linked cotemporaneous 
events and characters that must be noticed, in order 
to give a full and comprehensive view of what they 
did, and of the influence they exerted on society. 
And if an apology could rightfully be made for this 
kind of biography for any public man, it might be 
made for Bishop Asbury, for certainly he stood up 


before the community as a giant in intellect, and 
as a saint of the first magnitude, having pro- 
fessed and exemplified the " heights and depths r 
of " perfect love," and displayed the zeal and 
diligence of an apostle in the work of the Christian 

Dr. Strickland, however, has not availed himself 
of this privilege, but has confined himself strictly to 
the life and labors of Bishop Asbury, calling him, 
very appropriately, the " pioneer bishop." Such 
indeed he was, for he was the first Protestant bishop 
that ever trod the American soil, and he was the only 
bishop that followed the example of the apostles and 
primitive evangelists by itinerating through the 
length and breadth of the land, visiting alternately 
the cities and villages, the older settlements, and 
traversing the wilderness in search of the lost sheep 
of the house of Israel, carrying with him the light of 
truth and the love of God and man wherever he went. 
I say the biographer confines himself strictly to the 
life and labors of Bishop Asbury, but nevertheless 
embracing those cotemporaneous events which neces- 
sarily connected themselves with him, or which were 
produced by his active and energetic labors. This 
was necessary to make the portrait complete ; for, 
wherever the bishop moved he moved others, and 
they others, and thus his circle of influence was con- 
tinually enlarged, so that the little one " soon became 


a thousand, and a small one a strong nation." The 
work of reformation spread in every direction ; 
ministers and people were raised up, through his in- 
strumentality, to praise the Lord. A man thus dis- 
tinguished as a leader of "God's sacramental host" 
must necessarily cluster around him many others, 
some of them nearly equal to himself, others of an 
inferior grade, all of whom must be noticed with 
greater or lesser particularity, in order to render the 
portraiture full and perfect in all its parts. 

Dr. Strickland has already evinced his competency 
to the task of writing the life of Bishop Asbury, in 
other departments of literature, such as the History 
of the American Bible Society, History of the Mis- 
sionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
and other works of equal merit, and it is hoped and 
believed that his reputation as an author will suffer 
nothing in the present undertaking. His plan is 
calculated to insure success, by bringing the facts 
into as small a compass as the subject would permit, 
and thus presenting the life of Bishop Asbury full 
and complete, in a style of popular eloquence, to 
readers of all classes, tastes, and attainments. 

Those who were acquainted with Asbury, as was the 
writer of this Introduction, cannot but remember his 
dignified appearance, his manly eloquence, and the 
solemn and commanding manner in which he admin- 
istered the sacred ordinance to those on whom he 


laid his hands, while he said, "Keceive the Holy 
Ghost for the office of an elder in the Church of God, 
now committed unto thee by my hands and prayer." 
Generally this impressive act and these solemn words 
were attended with an "unction of the Holy One," 
which rested upon the recipients of this holy office, 
and ran through the assembly of God's people like 
electricity. Though I can well remember those 
seasons of solemn grandeur and holy delight, yet I 
find it difficult to describe them, there being a secret 
something arising from a consciousness of the Divine 
presence which renders it indescribable, or, as St. 
Paul expresses it, " unspeakable and full of glory." 
We felt indeed that Christ spoke through his servant, 

and realized 


" The solemn awe which dares not move, 
And all the silent heaven of love." 

The influence of the life of such a man, with its 
prominent features fully brought out, upon those who 
read it with attention, with faith and prayer, must 
be great and salutary. Some biographies, to be 
sure, possess nothing interesting, being made up of 
common-place remarks, possessing no traits of char- 
acter, experience, or conduct but what may be 
found in every individual of their class, and there- 
fore are dull and prosing, and soon pall upon the 
mental appetite. Not so the life of Bishop Asbury. 


He possessed strong points of character. His expe- 
rience of Divine things was deep and genuine, glory- 
ing in naught but " Jesus Christ, and him crucified," 
saying, " I rejoice continually in the perfect love of 
God." His labors were great, his travels extensive, 
and his constant moving from place to place brought 
him into all sorts of company, the rich and the poor, 
the learned and unlearned, so that in reading a faith- 
ful record of those things we have a panorama spread 
out before us filled with a variety of figures, all of 
an interesting character, all instructive and edifying. 
I could write much upon these topics, but I will 
not anticipate the biography before me. Let it be 
circulated and read, and then the reader will be 
fully acquainted with the birth, education, conver- 
sion, and sanctification of FBANCIS ASBURT, and will, 
I doubt not, praise God for raising up and qualifying 
him for the work of the ministry, and then putting 
him into the bishopric of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, in which office he exemplified, in an emi- 
nent degree, the graces of humility and firmness, of 
patience and perseverance, and those commanding 
talents which enabled him rightly to divide the word 
of truth, and give to every one his " portion of meat 

in due season." 

, Aug. 26, 1858. 



The Kelation of Childhood to Manhood Province of Education Di- 
versity of Mind Basis of Distinction Asbury's Birth Parentage 

Native Character Influence of Keligion Death of his Sister Its 
Effect on his youthful Mind His early Conversion School Days 
Cruel Treatment Change of Residence An Irreligious Family 
Trials Eeturns Home Learns a Trade Course of Reading Im- 
portance of right Kind Pernicious Principle Hears of the Method- 
ists through his Mother Attends their Preaching His Impressions 

Religious Enjoyment Holds Prayer Meetings Opposition Meet- 
ings for Prayer and Exhortation in his Father's House Extends his 
Sphere of Labor Souls converted Licensed to Preach Early La- 
bors Appointed to a Circuit Conference at Bristol in 1771 Vol- 
unteers as a Missionary to America, and is accepted PAGE 25 


Asbury returns Home Encounters Trials His Mother Visits the 
Scenes of his early Labors Parting with Parents Bristol Outfit - 
Richard Wright Embarkation Sickness Preaching on board by 
"Wright Self-examination Motives Reflections His first Serrncn 
at Sea Advantage of Trials Books read on the Voyage Study of 
the Bible His Heart bound to America Personal Religion Full 
Consecration to his Mission Last Sermon on Shipboard Gale 
Sight of Land Voyage ended Reception in Philadelphia Preach- 
ing by Pilinoor Progress of Methodism Encouragement The 
Soldier Preacher . 42 



Commercial Intercourse between England and the United States Mer- 
chants of New York Philadelphia Merchants Students at Prince- 
ton Eeception of New York Merchants' Letter in Boston Patriots 
of the South Colony of Massachusetts put under Martial Law Har- 
bor of Boston and Castle William Mediation of Franklin Valley of 
the Mississippi Six Nations "Western Explorations Washington 
selects Lands for Soldiers Boone the Pioneer Hunter Eegulators 

Their Kepresentative imprisoned Battle Proclamation Cen- 
tralization of Power Unjust Taxation Protest of Samuel Adams 
Franklin's Prediction Vessels of War in Boston Harbor Ministers 
of Boston refuse to read the Governor's Thanksgiving Proclamation 
Evils of Slavery in Virginia Proclamation of the King Jefferson 
Lee Henry Appeal to the Bong Franklin First Eeligious Sects 
in the Country Queen Elizabeth's Grant Grant of Charles II. 
Puritans Lutherans Baptists Eeformed Dutch Presbyterians 

Eoman Catholics PAGE 51 


Colonial Period Colonists in a State of Eebellion Church and State 
Eeligious Denominations Persecutions The " Great Awakening " 
Decline in Eeligion The Wesleys Their Labors in America Method- 
ist Emigrants Philip Embury in New York First Meeting Subse- 
quent Meetings Incidental Eemarks in relation to Local Preachers 
The Value of their Labors in early Times First Methodist Preaching 
in America The little Band in Barrack-street Workshop Secret of 
the Success of the early Preachers Embury as a Preacher Conversion 
of an English Officer Becomes a Local Preacher Ordered to America 
and stationed at Albany Visits New York and preaches for the Meth- 
odists Multitudes attracted Place too small Larger Eoom obtained 
Opposition First Methodist Church built Eeinforcement of Preach- 
ers sent over by Wesley Pilmoor's Letter to Wesley Strawbridge in 
Maryland Boardman in Philadelphia Letter to Wesley 69 


Eeception hi Philadelphia Pilmoor Asbury's first Sermon in America 
Visit to Staten Island New York Boardman Asbury's Opinion of 


the Americans Visit to the Country Pilmoor Asbury in Philadel- 
phia Appointed Superintendent Criticism of a Book An officious 
Priest Quarterly Meetings Baltimore New York Church Wor- 
shipers Philadelphia Kankin St. Paul's Church Eankin' s Op- 
position to Eevivals First Conference Baltimore Quarterly Con- 
ference Otterbein Second Conference Desire to be sent to Balti- 
more Disappointed Norfolk Eevival in Virginia Asbury 's Opin- 
ion of the English Preachers who left the Country Eumors of "War 
"Warm Sulphur Springs "Wesley and Politics Conference at Deer 
Creek Declaration of Independence Difficulties about the Sacra- 
ments Eetires to Judge "White's in Delaware Trials Action of 
Southern Preachers Asbury's Efforts at Union Plan proposed 
Eejected Delegates sent to Southern Conference Successful Be- 
Bult PAGE 83 


Visit to the Churches in Virginia Description of his Journey Con- 
ference of 1781 held in Baltimore 'Concurrence of the Southern 
Preachers in the Plan of Union Eesolve of the Preachers Eegula- 
tions in regard to Local Preachers Letter to Wesley Close of Con- 
ference Itinerant Superintendency Hard Fare Congregation on 
the Mountain Hanging Eock Castle South Branch of the Potomac 
Settlement of Germans Inspiring Scenes Fork Mountain Large 
Spring Caves Banks of Lost Eiver Drafted Soldiers Benighted 
on the Mountains Leesburg New York Conference Numbers 
received Interchange of Preachers Conference confirm Asbury's 
Appointment as Superintendent Coadjutancy of Eev. Mr. Jarratt 
State of the Church Eevivals in Virginia and Maryland Adjourned 
to Baltimore Asbury's Travels Friendly Quakers at Salem Prep- 
arations for Conference Statistics A disaffected Preacher Wes- 
ley's Letter Crossing the Mountains Capture of Mr. Williams by 
the Indians Quarterly Meeting at Philadelphia New York 
Opinion of Methodists in these Places First Interview with Dr. Coke 
after his Arrival Eichard Whatcoat Surprise Question as to an 
Independent Organization discussed Determination to call a General 
Conference Freeborn Garrettson sent to the South Vasey Poyth- 
ress Interview with Mr. Weems Eeflections . . 121 



Length of Time in America His Age An unordained Preacher 
Number of Preachers and Members Character of the Preachers 
-ociated with him Marsden's Description of Asbury "Christmas 
General Conference" Dr. Coke "Wesley's Letter An important 
Occasion A distinct and separate Organization Title of Church 
Office of Bishop elective Coke and Asbury elected Bishops Or- 
dination of Asbury Ordination Sermon Ordination of Deacons - 
Power exercised by Asbury as an Assistant Superintendent under 
Wesley Conference defines the Duty of a Bishop Abuse of Power 
Character of the present Episcopacy Short Obituaries Asbury's 
first Sermon as a Bishop Change in his Journal Effect of Adminis- 
tration of the Ordinances by Asbury on other Churches Charleston, 
South Carolina Lee Willis Conferences New Circuits Great 
Eevivals York Surrender of Lord Cornwallis Alexandria Yi>it 
to George Washington Bath Springs Preaches in a Theater Balti- 
more Philadelphia New York Heavy Labors Liberality of New 
York Methodists Asbury's first Wagon Last Wagon PAGE 138 


John Dickins Description of, by Asbury Subscription for "Kings- 
wood High School in America" Claims of, presented by Asbury 
Dr. Coke's Sympathy with the Enterprise Suggests the Propriety of 
founding a College Adopted by the Conference Plan drawn up ac- 
cordingly Eules and Eegulations Abingdon selected as the Site 
Beauty of Situation Laying the Corner-Stone of Cokesbury College 

Asbury's Sermon on the Occasion Dedication An ominous Text 

First Faculty of the College Eules and Eegulations Asbury and 
College Finances Its Management a source of great Anxiety Its His- 
tory Destruction by Fire The Subject of Bebuilding agitated by 
Dr. Coke A Building suited to the Purpose purchased in Baltimore 

College reopened Faculty Eegulations and Course of Study 
Destroyed by Fire School for Charity Boys in Georgia Bethel 
Academy Seminary in New York Progress of Education in the 
Church Eemarks of Hon. Edward Everett. . 161 



Dismal Swamp Perilous Journey Meets Dr. Coke at Charleston 
Conference Preaching Asbury's Travels Description of Dr. Coke's 
Sermon at New York Hempstead Harbor Preaches in a Paper-Mill 
Eeturns to New York Trouble in the Church about Congregational 
Singing Journey up the Hudson Description of West Point New- 
burgh Bath Delivers a Course of Lectures on the Prophecies 
Dejection of Mind First Ordination in the Mississippi Valley As- 
bury in Gown and Bands Eearranges the Discipline When First 
Edition was printed New Edition Questions and Answers omitted 
Revised Edition Fifth Edition New Sections Notes on the Disci- 
pline General Conference at Charleston, South Carolina, 1788 
Georgia Crossing the Mountains Hard Fare A stubborn Horse 
An Incident Character of Early Settlers Letter to a Quaker in Del- 
aware Tour to the Western Wilderness Horses stolen by Indians 
Perils of the Journey Conference in Lexington Eeturn through the 
Wilderness Conference at Petersburg!! Bishop's Council Threat- 
ening Letter from O'Kelly Asbury's Eeply Asbury vindicates 
himself Jesse Lee in New England His Character First Sermon 
in Boston Letter to Asbury Letter from Poythress ...... PAGE 174 


Doctrine of Celibacy Apostolic Injunction Asbury's Seasons for Celi- 
bacyOther Seasons His Opinion of Dr. Coke's Marriage Singu- 
lar Remark about the Women and the Devil Dialogue on Marriage 
Asbury and the Young Lady Devotion to his Mother Beautiful 
Tribute to her Memory ........................................ 206 


Previous Eeference to Institutions of Learning Asbury lays the Foun- 
dation of the Book Concern Founder of the Methodist Missions to 
Frontier Settlements Founder of the Chartered Fund Founder of 
American Sabbath Schools Benevolent Institutions the Outgrowth of 
the Church Asbury a Bible Distributer The Sunday School System 
incorporated with the Discipline Asbury's Comments Preached on 
the Subject of Education Name of Francis Asbury given to Children 


Kememhcred in his Will AfTVetK>nate Eegard for the Young Or- 
ganization of District Schools His Plan Its Importance An inter- 
esting Sketch PAGE 215 


Anbury's Attachment to America when his Associates in the- Ministry 
fled the Country Writes a Complimentary Letter to an Advo- 
cate of American Principles Admonition to the Conference in 
relation to the Employment of an English Preacher His unbounded 
Admiration for Washington Proposition to the New York Con- 
ference in 1789 Asbury and his Associates introduced to Washing- 
ton in his Official Capacity Address of the Bishop Washington's 
Reply The Methodist Episcopal Church the first to recognize the 
Government of the United States With other Churches an after- 
thought No Union of Church and State, but Government Protection 

The Government Christian Obedience to Government an Article 
of Eeligion Reflections Asbury 's Example -- Tribute to Washing- 
tonThoughts on Eeligious Liberty Connecticut and Massachusetts 
Priest-ridden View of the United States Continental Officers. . 230 


Asbury and Coke at Port Eoyal, South Carolina Sad Intelligence of 
the Death of Wesley Tribute Coke left for Baltimore to take 
Passage to England Preaches a Funeral Sermon in Baltimore Con- 
ference Conference at Duck Creek and Trenton New Y'v r ^ 
Asbury preaches before the Conference on the Occasion of Wes^ e j' s 
Death New Haven President of Yale College and Professors 'Col- 
lege Chapel Uncourteous Treatment Providence Boston ]pis- 
couraged Lynn Prophecy Fulfillment Letter to a y oirng Min i ~ 
ter Visits various Places in New England Eeturns to New York ' 
Journey West and South Tennessee Indian Depredations Crosses 
the Wilderness Kentucky Boone, the Pioneer Hunter Paradise 
for the Poor Man Eock Castle Station Conference at Bethel Prep- 
arations for Eeturn Alarm Incidents of Travel Watching the Sen- 
tinels Land-marks of Travel Conference at Lynn Pittsfield 
Grand Meeting House New Divinity Preacher Character of Eastern 
People Medicinal Waters of Lebanon Devil's Tents Conference 


at Albany Questions of Theology discussed Hudson and Ehine- 
beck Conference in New York Love-Feast Dr. L.'s Preaching 
Hospitality of Friends Sermon on the Lord's Supper Dr. Langdon 
on Eevelations Judge "White's Milford Jefferson's Notes on Vir- 
ginia Incident at Judge White's Tribute to his Memory. .PAGE 240 


Coke's Eeturn from England A Crisis in the History of the Church 
Statistics in 1792 Friction in the Machinery of Methodism Power 
of the Episcopacy Causes which led to the Formation of the General 
Conference Plan of a Council Plan Adopted Minutes of the First 
Council Members present Constitution Eesolutions Second 
Council Members present O'Kelly Opposition of Lee Last 
Council held Call for a General Conference Duly organized By- 
laws adopted Eeview of the Discipline Episcopal Power O'Kel- 
ly's Eesolution Asbury withdraws from the Conference Eoom His 
Letter to the Conference Discussion Episcopacy sustained Sub- 
sequent Eevival of the Question Methodist Protestant Church Lee's 
History Questions pertaining to the Election, Ordination, and Trial 
of a Bishop Presiding Elder Question Duties defined Provision 
for Traveling Preachers' Wives Salary John Dickins appointed 
Agent of Book Concern Fee for performing Marriage Ceremony 
Money to be given to the Conference Presents to be accounted for 
Certificate of Eemoval Eule of Arbitration adopted Chapter 011 
Public Worship Asbury's Eeflections on the General Conference 
Opinion of O'Kelly Eevision of the Discipline End of the Session 
Another General Conference agreed upon 258 


Second Decade of Methodism passed Eesults of Twenty-six Years 
Position of the Church Southern Tour Whitefield's Orphan House 
in Georgia Melancholy Eeflections Asbury crosses the Wilderness 
-Sick Continental Tour Great Sickness in New York Few 
Preachers at Conference Yellow Fever in Philadelphia Day of Fast- 
ing, Humiliation, and Prayer Pestilence in Maryland Pass from a 
Health Officer Preaches in Baltimore Takes up Winter Quarters at 
Charleston Midnight Journey Father Harper's Plantation As- 


bun- at Baltimore June, 1704 Portrait taken at request of Preachnrs 

Original Picture in ]> a "!' Haltimorc Methodist Historical So- 
ciety Travels to Boston Remarks New York Conference Preach- 
ing Yull"'.v Fi-vcr at Baltimore Whisky Insurrection in the West 

Charleston Rough Treatment Leaves the South Trip North- 
ward At New York Fourth of July Rev. Mr. Ogden's Work on 
Revealed Religion New England Grave of Embury at Ashgrove 
Residence of Garrettson Governor Van Cortlandt At the Mansion 
of his friend Wells in Charleston His Slaves Asbury's Labors in 
Charleston "Ben," the Half-blood Indian Warrior Thrilling Ac- 
count of Mrs. Dickcnson Constitution for a Relief Fund Asbury in 
New York Explains the Discipline to the Leaders His Definition 
of Schism New England Conference Rumors of Yellow Fever 
Crossing the Bay in a Storm Conference at Philadelphia Short 
Sketch of Benjamin Abbott PAGE 277 


General Conference in Baltimore in 1796 Number of Preachers present 

Cradle of Southern Methodism Quadrennial Greetings Address 
of British Conference Number of Conferences Boundaries Deed 
of Settlement Candidates for Deacon's and Elder's Orders Arrange- 
ments for Publication of Books Monthly Magazine Rules for 
Seminaries of Learning Charter Fund Preacher's Fund merged 
Regulations in regard to Marriage Use and Sale of Ardent Spirits 
Subject of African Slavery Declaration Address to the British 
Conference Southern Tour Attack of Fever Coke and Whatcoat 

Unpleasant Incident Mr, Wesley displeased Asbury's Love of 
American Methodism Light-street Church and Asbury College de- 
stroyed by Fire Dangerous Illness of Mr. Wells Death Tribute 
to his Memory Dr. Coke's Oration Notes on the Discipline Spring 

Gap in the Mountain Widow Sherwood's Dumb Sabbaths Re- 
view of Labors Jesse Lee in Maine Noble Band of New England 
Itinerants The eccentric Father Moodie Conference at Readfield 
Preaches in Portland Returns Yellow Fever in New York Death 
of John Dickins Testimonial Conference in Philadelphia and New 
York Accompanied by Lee to the South Intelligence of Wash- 
ington's Death Sermon on the Occasion Snethen A great Fa- 
vorite.. . 297 



General Conference in Baltimore in 1800 Address of the British Con- 
ference Explanation of Dr. Coke Address of Asbury to the Brit- 
ish Conference His Determination to resign his Office Resolution 
of the Conference Election of Richard Wbatcoat to the Episcopacy 
Asbury and Whatcoat at Perry Hall Abingdon Ruins of the Col- 
lege New York Conference Revival in the Bowery Church Wid- 
ow Sherwood's Boston Bishops preach in the Tabernacle 
Mother Livingston Her Conversion Hospitality Garrettson's 
Crossing the Wilderness Conference at Bethel Preachers present 
Nashville Origin of Camp-meetings Asbury confined at Philadel- 
phia Western Conference in Tennessee Poythress Recrosses the 
Mountains Spends the Winter in South Carolina Baltimore Maine 

A charming Spot His Mother's Death Tribute to her Memory 
Death of Rev. Devereux Jarratt Memorial Funeral Sermon New 
York Conference Fredericktown Natural Bridge Revival at Hoi- 
stein Conference At Station Camp Night Encampment Mount- 
ain Dew No Tent Opinion of Southern Planters Baltimore 
Compliment to Perry Hall Miss De Peyster's Legacy Sermon in 
John street Ordains Joshua Soule Ashgrove Pittsburgh Zane's 
Trace Lancaster Western Conference in Kentucky Visit to Dr. 
Hinde Interesting Incident Illness Depression Legacy Ten- 
nessee Virginia PAGE 318 


General Conference of 1804 Conferences represented Ratio of Repre- 
sentation 'Composition of Revision of the Discipline Boundaries 
Presiding Elder Question Resolution of Garrettson on the Subject 
of Slavery Dr. Coke granted Leave to return to England Perry 
Hall Philadelphia and New York New Haven Mi cldleto wn 
Conference at Buxtou Remarkable Camp-meetings Quakers in 
Massachusetts Rhinebeck The Congregations in New York Ad- 
dress to Quarterly Conferences Secessionists return O'Kelly's Zeal 

The Methodist People independent Railers Conference in Balti- 
more Camp-meeting at Musquito Cove on Long Island Brooklyn 
Eegular Succession Asbury' s short Way Camp-meeting New York 


Conference New England Conference Yellow Fever at New IIave7i 
-Prohibited from entering New York and Philadelphia The Alle- 
ghnnies Ohio River Wheeling Zanesville Chillicothc Lost 
in the Woods l v r-- Vlsil to Cincinnati Reply to Dr. Coke's Letter 
Resolution in regard to a Delegated General Conference Danger- 
ous Illness of Bishop "Whatcoat Camp-meeting at Philip's Manor 
New York Conference Establishing the Episcopacy Mountains of 
Western Virginia Camp-meeting Tour among the Log Cabins of 
the West Encouragement PAGE 353 


Mountains of Western Virginia Camp-meeting Scenes Asbury's Visit 

Rev. Henry Boehrn Reese Wolf Hockhocking Preaching 
Tour through Ohio Pioneer Settlers Log Cabins Hospitable but 
hard Fare Asbury's Lecture Interesting Incident Love-feast 
One of Asbury's Converts Virginia Hospitality Social Gathering 
Description of Guests Subjects of Conversation 370 


Asbury in the far South Conference at Newbern, North Carolina 
Baltimore Conference Virginia Delaware Philadelphia Green 
Mountains, Vermont Conference in Boston Lakes Moravians at 
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania First Conference northwest of the Ohio 
Indian Invasion Shakers at Lebanon, Ohio Philip Gatch's Cin- 
cinnati Camp-meeting Additions to the Hymn Book Charleston 

Western Conference Conference at Alexandria Perry Hall in 
Mourning General Conference in Baltimore New Church in Eutaw- 
street dedicated Portrait of Asbury taken by Order of the General 
Conference Whatcoat Coke's Proposal to divide the Continent into 
Two separate Dioceses Bishop White Affair M'Kendree elected 
Bishop Western Pioneer Memorial of New York Conference Re- 
strictive Rules Subject of Slavery Proposal to strike the Section 
from the Discipline First Two Paragraphs retained Asbury's Mo- 
tion Asbury and Boehm Western Travels Indiana Regulation 
on Slavery Crosses the Wilderness Asbury and M'Kendree in a 
Thirty Dollar Chaise Rembert's Chapel Virginia Conference 


Attempt to prejudice Slaveholders against the Methodists New York 
and New England Presbyterians Cincinnati Camp-meeting " Old 
Stone " - Conference Baltimore Hospitality Pittsfield " Perpet- 
ual Hills " Boston South called on to assist Boston Methodists 
Lee's History Comments Keview Life in the Mountains Awful 
Wilderness Discipline translated into German West Governor 
Worthmgton Virginia Great Fire in New York Genesee Confer- 
ence Wise Men of New York Conference MadEiver Dayton, 
Ohio South Carolina.. .PAGE 393 


General Conference in New York, May, 1812 Adoption of Eules Let- 
ter from Dr. Coke Bishop M'Kendree's Address Genesee Confer- 
ence recognized Asbury's Address to the Conference M'Kendree's 
Eeply Asbury's Desire to return to England Collection of Materials 
for a History of the Church Dr. Bangs's History Division of the 
Western Conference Missionary Society Subject of Slavery Last 
General Conference he attended Sherwood Vale Governor Van 
Cortlandt Illness Conference at Albany Conference at Lynn 
War declared Secession Genesee Conference West Beauti- 
ful Country of the Wyoming Eemarks on the War Judge Van 
Meter White Brown' s Ohio Conference Cincinnati Frankfort. 
Kentucky Louisville Labors hi Nashville Charleston General 
Lee Carried into Church Invitation from British Conference Bal- 
timore Conference Philadelphia New York Conference M' Ken- 
dree Valedictory Address to Writes his last Will Eemarks 
about New England New York Conference Tomb of Henry Willis 
The poor Africans Dr. Hinde Tennessee Conference Valedic- 
tory Address to Presiding Elders Funeral Sermon on the Death 
of Otterbein Sick at Perry Hall John Wesley Bond Ohio Con- 
ference Gloomy Tidings of War Conference Illness Baltimore 

Last Visit to Perry Hall New York Conference Preached the 
Funeral Sermon of Dr. Coke Tribute Massachusetts Last Ser- 
mon in Boston New York Philadelphia Crosses the Mountains 

David Young Chillicothe Eleanor Worthington. Eeflections on 
the Overthrow of Buonaparte Ohio Conference Bishop M'Kendree 

Conference at Lexington, Kentucky Funeral Sermon 432 



Educational Advantages His Devotion to Study His Knowledge of 
the Laiiu-uaL. -Thorough Course of Reading Ik-brew Bible and 
Greek Testament his constant Companions < 'ritieal Exegesis Power 
of Discrimination Style of Writing Imagination and Wit Speci- 
mens Gracefulness of Style Specimens An Appreciative Sense 
of the Beautiful A Man of Sympathy Notices of Books in his 
Course of Reading Criticisms His Skeletons of Sermons Secret 
of his success as a Student Method of Study His Library Prep- 
arations for the Pulpit Obituaries in the early Minutes written by 
Asbury Epistolary Correspondence Letters ............. PAGE 470 


His last Round Unceasing Toil The ruling Passion Entry in his 
Journal Journey through North and South Carolina Arrival at 
Richmond, Virginia Dissuaded from Preaching Determined to 
preach once more Is carried into the Church Beautiful Morning* 
His Text on the Occasion His Audience An impressive Scene 
Close of the Discourse Anxiety to reach Baltimore Farewell Ar- 
rives at the Residence of his old Friend, Mr. George Arnold Illness 
increased Unable to proceed further His Sufferings Sabbath 
Family called together for Religious Service Bond, his traveling Com- 
panion, reads and expounds the Scriptures Conclusion of Services 
While sitting in his Chair the Spirit of Asbury passed away His 
Funeral Burial Request of the Citizens of Baltimore made to the 
General Conference His Remains removed to Eutaw-street Church 
Vast Procession Funeral Oration pronounced by Bishop M'Kendree 
Epitaph Resolutions of the Baltimore Conference in 1856 in relation 
to the Erection of a Monument in Mount Oh' vet Cemetery Reflec- 
tions ... . 486 





The Eelation of Childhood to Manhood Province of Education Di- 
versity of Mind Basis of Distinction Asbury's Birth Parentage 

Native Character Influence of Eeligion Death of his Sister Its 
Effect on his youthful Mind His early Conversion School Days 
Cruel Treatment Change of Eesidence An Irreligious Family 
Trials Eeturns Home Learns a Trade Course of Eeading Im- 
portance of right Kind Pernicious Principle Hears of the Method- 
ists through Ms Mother Attends their Preaching His Impressions 

Eeligious Enjoyment Holds Prayer Meetings Opposition Meet- 
ings for Prayer and Exhortation in his Father's House - Extends his 
Sphere of Labor Souls converted Licensed to Preach Early La- 
bors Appointed to a Circuit Conference at Bristol in 1771 Vol- 
unteers as a Missionary to America, and is accepted. 

"THE child is father to the man." Perhaps, more 
properly speaking, it may be said the child is the 
model of the man. Rarely does it happen that dis- 
tinguishing traits of character are found to exist in 
persons whose early life and training have not been 
marked with distinctive peculiarities. The practised 
eye of the botanist can detect in the germ of the 
acorn the quality and size of the future oak, and the 


laws of nature are not more invariable in their ope- 
ration than are the laws of mind. Inspiration gives 
prominence to the fact that there is an important 
relation between right training and character, and 
has assumed it as an axiom in human development, 
and the experience and history of the world most 
clearly attest its truth. 

That the child stands related in a most important 
and significant sense to the future man, is a natural 
fact current and patent to all nations, and recognized 
in all religions and forms of instruction. We readily 
admit that education sustains an important place in 
the formation or cultivation of the mind, but it can- 
not impart a quality to mind. Quality is native and 
inborn ; and to affirm that all minds possess the same 
type, is to affirm what is not true, and what is 
contradicted by all history and experience. To be 
sure, mind is mind, just as marble is marble ; but 
there are different casts in the former, just as 
there are different qualities and shades in the latter. 
Endless variety characterizes all the works of crea- 
tion, and this variety pervades the world of mind as 
well as the world of matter. What wonderful vari- 
eties of mind are found in children even of the same 
parents, and how strikingly is the fact illustrated ! 
Were all minds alike, then it is perfectly obvious 
that the same training under the same circumstances 
would produce the same results. Every day's ex- 


perience, however, shows that this is very far from 
being the case. 

It is a common remark, made in relation to a por- 
tion of mankind, that they are " cast in nature's 
finest mold ;" and we hear the equally common re- 
mark of others, that " they are rough specimens of 
humanity." Why this diversity exists, it is not our 
province to know. God, who "has made of one 
blood all nations of men upon the earth," and has 
" fixed the bounds of their habitation," has made us to 
differ; but the reasons for this diversity are among 
the mysteries of his works, which are beyond the 
reach of man. 

Whatever is essential to mind, however, is com- 
mon to all minds, just as what is essential to matter 
is common to all matter ; but the possession of these 
essential attributes is compatible with the most end- 
less variety in formations, orders, and classes. We 
assign to rocks certain formations ; to animals, cer- 
tain orders ; to plants, certain species ; and to minds, 
certain classes. Nothing is more common than to 
speak of a class of minds, and to assign them a place 
in the world of intellect. This latter remark, how- 
ever, is predicated of quality, and not of anything 
acquired. Education only develops the latent pow- 
ers of the mind, and disciplines the native forces of 
the intellect to action. Perception, imagination, 
judgment, and consciousness are no more the product 


of education than the mind itself, and where either 
of these are absent or defective in the original 
quality no education can impart them. 

"We have pursued this train of thought further 
than we intended, and yet we think it is worthy of 
more consideration than has generally been given to 
it. "\Vliat we designed in our preliminary remarks 
was simply to reiterate the generally acknowledged 
fact, that great eminence and distinction in the world 
come not from chance, nor yet from any particu- 
larly favorable circumstances, though these must, to 
some extent, exist, but from an original quality 
inhering in the mind itself as the basis thereof. 

Francis Asbury was born on the 20th of August, 
1745, near the foot of Hempstead Bridge in Stafford- 
shire, a short distance from Birmingham. His 
father's Christian name was Joseph, and his mother's 
Elizabeth. His parents, we are told, were " amiable 
and respectable." How much is embraced in these 
two words ! AVith. the parents of young Asbury 
amiability was not a feigned but real possession. 
The basis of their gentleness was in their hearts, and 
added to it were the genial influences of religion. 
Grace has wonderful power to soften and refine the 
manners, as whatsoever is "lovely and of good 
report " is produced by its operation. 

But what is more, the parents belonged to the bet- 
ter class of England's population. By this we do not 


mean that they were allied to the nobility, but they 
were of what we would consider the real aristocracy 
of England, occupying a middle position between the 
idle, effeminate, and vicious of the upper classes, and 
the ignorant, degraded, and sunken of the lower. Yir- 
tue, morality, and religion, as well as patriotism and 
true loyalty, in every country enlightened and refined, 
have always been found among the middle classes to 
a far greater extent than among the higher. It was 
from this class young Asbury sprung. But what is 
more than all this, and what in the language of Addi- 
son constitutes the highest style of humanity, they 
were Christians. From such a parentage we may 
well look for children of the right stamp. These 
godly parents were blessed with but two children, 
Francis and a lovely daughter, who, like a fair 
and beauteous flower, bloomed a few short summers 
by their side, and was transplanted in a more genial 
clime. The transit from earth to heaven of the loved 
one preyed heavily upon the youthful heart of the 
bereaved brother, and gave to his ardent affections 
a heavenly turn ; and thus to the many examples of 
youthful piety furnished in sacred and profane 
history, was added another prominent one in the 
conversion of Francis at the early age of seven. 

The father of young Asbury, though not wealthy, 
was in comfortable circumstances; and being de- 
sirous of giving his son all the advantages of 


education, lie placed him early in school to one 
Anther Taylor, at Sneal's Green, in the vicinity of 
Barr, whither he had removed. When between the 
age of six and seven Francis commenced reading the 
Bible, and he says, in his short biography of himself, 
that he "was greatly delighted in the historical part 
of it.'' At this school another kind of discipline 
awaited him, different from that of a mental char- 
acter. His teacher, he informs us, was cruel and 
tyrannical, and vented his spleen upon the children 
committed to his care. Being a child of God, even 
such a discipline was made to work for young 
Asbury's good. The sufferings he endured from this 
pedagogue of " brief authority ' : were borne submis- 
sively by the child and carried to a throne of grace. 
In his own expressive language, " God was very near 
to him," and proved " a very present help in time of 
trouble." He knew his father's anxiety about his ed- 
ucation, and this, doubtless, had its effect in prompt- 
ing him to bear longer than he otherwise would the 
unkind treatment he received. The very presence of 
such meekness and submission in the child, instead 
of assuaging the wrath of the tyrant, seemed only to 
whet his tigerlike appetite, and his cruelty became 
so great that it was no longer endurable. The result 
was that Francis was taken from school, and thus 
snatched from the clutches of the teacher as the 
prey from the mouth of the destroyer. 


It was evident that God was preparing him for a 
great and important work in the world, and as the 
Israelites were not allowed to enter Canaan until after 
forty years' suffering in the desert had prepared them 
for the promised inheritance, and as our divine Lord 
himself entered not into glory until he passed through 
the severe discipline of a sorrowful life and an igno- 
minious death, and as his followers generally are 
" made perfect through suffering," so the future zeal- 
ous, self-sacrificing, and devoted preacher was called 
to the trial of his faith. From school he was removed 
to another part of the parish, and became an inmate 
of one of the wealthy and fashionable families of that 
neighborhood. In this house God was not known, 
as it seems its inmates were of those who " called not 
upon his name." 

We may stop here to ask what is wealth, position, 
and influence among those who are denominated 
" the first families," and who move in the highest 
circles of genteel society, and claim an alliance with 
the nobility of the land, if the blessing of God rests 
not upon them ? As that nation in the highest sense 
is a " royal nation," and that people "a peculiar peo- 
ple," who are allied to Jehovah as their King, so that 
family rises in dignity and importance which walks in 
the fear of the Lord and the light of his countenance. 
His stay with this family, surrounded as he was with 
the blandishments of fashionable society, and the con- 


stant example of a vain and frivolous course of life, 
proved a much sorer trial of his faith than any through 
which he had passed. The afflictions he endured at 
school drove him near to God, and kept him humble; 
but the circumstances by which he was surrounded 
in this irreligious family had a tendency to draw him 
from the Lord. His faith, however, though severely 
tried, proved adequate to the test, and though, to 
use his own language, he " became somewhat vain," 
having naturally a light and joyous disposition, "he 
did not become openly wicked." 

After remaining some months with this family he 
returned to the paternal roof. He was now in his 
fourteenth year, and it became necessary for him to 
make choice of some branch of business. Having 
made a selection of a trade suited to his judgment 
and taste, he entered upon it and prosecuted it with 
all diligence. While engaged in this business he 

o o o 

became the inmate of a kind family, who, he says, 
treated him like a son. His religious feelings, which 
had met with a temporary interruption, very soon 
returned to him, and he recommenced prayer morn- 
ing and evening, being, as he says, "drawn by the 
cords of love as with the bands of a man." His faith 
was strengthened and his enjoyments heightened by 
frequent attendance at Bromwich church, where he 
heard Ryland, Stillingfleet, Talbott, Bagnall, Mans- 
field, Hawes, and Yenn, some of whom were among 


the most distinguished ministers and ornaments of 
the English pulpit. 

At this time he devoted himself more particularly 
to reading and study. Among the books he read 
was Whitefield's Sermons. The course of reading 
in which he took most deli slit was of a religious char- 

o o 

acter, and the department under this head embraced 
mostly those books of a practical and experimental 
description. How important in the formation of a 
religious character is it that the right kind of books 
be read; for, whatever may be the experience in after 
life, the religious faitli will take its tone and coloring 
in a great decree from the mental aliment. Those 

O O 

who in early life are indoctrinated in the Westminster 


Confession of Faith, the Augsburg Confession, or the 
Thirty-nine Articles, and works which fall in the line 
of these doctrines, no matter what may afterward be 
their Church relations, will find it difficult to divest 
themselves entirely of their early impressions. Hence 
it is of the greatest importance that our youth have 
the right kind of books brought in contact with their 
minds in the forming stage of their religious character. 
The principle adopted by some parents is of the most 
latitudinary character. They say, Let the children 
alone in their choice of books, and also in their 
choice of a Church, until they grow up and are able 
to judge for themselves. Such advice we regard as 
infidel, and pernicious in a high degree. If it be 


right to act upon this principle in regard to a ques- 
tion of such vital moment, and one involving happi- 
ness for time and eternity, as the question of a right 
faith does, then is it equally right, nay, more so, to 
allow them the largest liberty in regard to all their 

Fortunately for young Asbury, his religious tastes 
led him to seek the right kind of spiritual food, and 
those books only were read which were adapted to 
his religious habitudes and feelings. The opportu- 
nity which he enjoyed of hearing sermons from pious 
and distinguished divines, and of reading books of a 
religious character, greatly sharpened his appetite 
for spiritual things, and it is not to be wondered 
at that he was on the alert for anything of interest 
that might come up in the religious world around 
him. Until now he had not heard of the Methodists. 
Like Fletcher, who in the early part of his religious 
career was ignorant of them, the sect everywhere de- 
nounced as the wildest fanatics was to him unknown. 
He had, however, tasted of the spirit of Methodism, 
for the piety which still lingered in the old Church 
of the Reformation was baptized by that name 
wherever it was found. If any were suspected, either 
among Churchmen or Dissenters, of being more 
than ordinarily prayerful or devotional in spirit or 
practice, they were at once branded as Methodists. 
It may have been that young Asbury's studious and 


prayerful habits first introduced him to the name. 
But be that as it may, it came to his ears, and as soon 
as the opportunity presented itself he asked his pious 
mother who the Methodists were, and where they 
could be found. He doubtless felt a desire kindred 
to that of Fletcher to behold this strange religious 
sect, whose zeal for God and religion had given them 
notoriety. From his mother he received a most 
favorable account, and besides, she directed him to a 
person who could give him all the information he de- 
sired about them. That person he soon found, and it 
was not long before he availed himself of the opportu- 
nity of accompanying him to a neighboring town to 
hear them for himself. When they arrived at the 
place of meeting he was surprised to find that it was 
not a church. The service was probably held in a 
private house, or a barn, or perhaps in the open 
field ; as regards this Asbury does not inform us ; but 
he does enter minutely into a description of the 
people and their exercises, the latter of which were 
different from anything he had ever witnessed before, 
and made an impression which was never erased. 
Though the people had not assembled in a church, 
with its tower, and bell, and organ, 

" And storied windows, richly dight, 
That cast a dim religious light," 

yet he entered where the congregation " sat together 


in heavenly places," and "worshiped at the very 
irate of heaven/' To use his own simple, nervous 
language, "It was better than a church, the people 
wi-re so devout; men and women kneeling, and all 
saying amen." After prayer, "with the spirit and 
understanding, they all united in singing a hymn of 
praise." The soul of the worshipers was in the 
sound, and it was more sweet and entrancing than 
any that had ever fallen upon the young stranger's 
ear. But how was his astonishment increased to find 
that the prayer which had been offered was not dic- 
tated by a prayer-book. Could it be possible that so 
wonderful a prayer could come out of untaught lips. 
Wonders began, but wonders were not to cease with 
his first introduction to the Methodists ; stranger 
sights were to be presented to his eyes, and stranger 
sounds were to fall upon his ears than he had yet seen 
or heard. The preacher rose and took his text, but he 
had no manuscript before him ; and if he had, there 
would have been no velvet-cushioned pulpit on which 
to place it. The sermon was plain, practical, pointed, 
full of unction, and attended with the demonstration 
of the Spirit and power to the hearts and consciences 
of all. 

Prepared as was young Asbury for the scenes he 
witnessed, notwithstanding the astonishment they cre- 
ated, he soon partook of their spirit, and commenced, 
"after the way others called heresy, to worship the 


God of liis fathers." Several times he attended these 
meetings, and at every time with increasing interest, 
and in " the fellowship of kindred minds ' he made 
rapid progress in spiritual life. Though his joy was 
not so full as that of some others, who would becloud 
his faith by telling him that " a believer was as 
happy as if he were in heaven," yet he " was happy, 
free from guilt and fear, and had power over sin, 
with the possession of great inward joy." 

Feeling that it was his duty to hold prayer-meet- 
ings in the neighborhood, he united as many with 
him as he could of like faith, and commenced relig- 
ious services in the house of a friend. These meet- 
ings were largely attended. Multitudes, attracted 
by the voice of praise and prayer in places where 
these sounds were before unknown, came to the 
meetings ; many from idle curiosity, but more were 
prompted by a spirit of opposition, as appears from 
the fact that the friends at whose houses the meet- 
ings were held, fearing an outbreak, were unwilling 
to have them continued. Opposition, however, could 
not daunt or damp the zeal of the young soldier of 
the cross ; and though obliged to desist from holding 
meetings at these places, he was favored with an- 
other sanctuary, and that was home. In his father's 
house he resumed the meetings for prayer, and, 
unmolested, exhorted, with fervency and power, 
the multitudes who came there, to flee the wrath 


to come and be saved from their sins. He also 
extended the sphere of his labors to Sutton-Cofields, 
where he was greatly encouraged and strengthened 
in his work by witnessing the conversion of several 
sonls. lie went to Bromwich-IIeath several times 
for the purpose of attending class-meeting, a means 
of grace which he much enjoyed, and which he ever 
after availed himself of when opportunity presented. 
He also attended band-meeting at Wednesbury, the 
place where he first heard Methodist preaching, as 
above described. These last means of grace formed 
distinctive peculiarities in the Wesleyan connection, 
though the latter has been abandoned in America, 
more, however, on account of their disuse than from 
any want of confidence in their importance in pro- 
moting the piety of those who attended them ; and 
class-meetings are perhaps more effectual in keeping 
up the life and power of religion, and advancing 
personal holiness, than any other prudential means 
devised by the Church. It is a matter of general 
observation that attendance on class-meetings in any 
particular charge is perhaps the surest indication of 
the tone of piety. 

The fervency and eloquence which characterized 
his prayers and exhortations excited the wonder of 
all, and when he first appeared and took part in 
Methodist meetings, the preachers, as well as the 
people, were surprised at his wonderful gifts. The 


question was. Where did lie acquire such self-pos- 
session, such readiness of utterance, such fluency and 
appropriateness of language ? Had they known how 
faithfully he read his Bible, and with what avidity 
he devoured the sermons and religious books within 
his reach, but, above all, the fact that his mother 
was accustomed to take him with her regularly to a 
female meeting for the purpose of reading and ex- 
pounding the Scriptures and giving out the hymns, 
they would not have been at a loss to conjecture 
from whence the youth obtained his furniture of 
mind and his facility in religious exercises. It was 
not long before the society became convinced that 
one who had such gifts and grace, and whose labors 
had been blessed to the awakening and conver- 
sion of souls, was called of God to enter upon the 
work of the ministry proper. He was impressed 
not only with a sense of its importance, and the 
duty of giving himself wholly to the work, but 
the voice of the Church, as the voice of God, con- 
curring therewith, deepened and strengthened that 
impression, and determined his future course. From 
the preacher in charge of the circuit he received 
license as a local preacher, and he was accordingly 
soon introduced to Methodist chapels, in which he 
held forth the word of life to " wondering, weeping 
thousands." Multitudes were attracted by his ex- 
treme youth, not being more than seventeen years of 


He sustained a local relation for several years, 


h, in fact, he was a traveling preacher: and 
visiting various places in Derby-hire, Staffordshire, 
Warwickshire, and Worcestershire, he preached the 
<'"-]>el to the crowds who attended his ministry. 
Ik-sides his Sabbath labors, lie preached during the 
week three or four times, and often five times. Thus 
he continued, in season and out of season, preaching 
far and near until he was twenty-one years of age, 
when he was received into theWesleyan Conference, 
and appointed to labor on a circuit, according to the 
"\Vesleyan form. He was now engaged in the work 
to which he was called, and he gave himself up ex- 
clusively to it, and as an obedient son in the Gospel 
he went from appointment to appointment. After 
traveling circuits for about five years he attended the 
Conference held at Bristol on the 7th of August, 1771. 
He was now in the twenty-sixth year of his age, and 
had been engaged in the work of the ministry for 
nine or ten years ; studious, devoted, self-sacrificing, 
and faithful in the discharge of all his duties, he had 
acquired a standing in the Conference which com- 
mended him to the confidence and esteem of all his 
brethren, both senior and junior. He not only had 
made himself acquainted with the doctrines and dis- 
cipline of Methodism, but he cherished for them the 
warmest affection, and conscientiously reduced them 
to every-day practice. 


Asbury went to this Conference with peculiar feel- 
ings. He had for some time been strongly impressed 
with a desire to go as a missionary to America. The 
more he thought and prayed about it, the more deep 
and powerful became the impression. The difficulties 
and dangers attending the voyage were great, and the 
increasing conviction that it was his duty to volunteer 
his services for that then distant land preyed heavily 
upon his mind. He was subjected to sore trials, and 
called to pass through a severer discipline of affliction 
than he had experienced before in his ministerial 
life. The Lord was evidently preparing him by this 
discipline for the great undertaking he had in con- 
templation. The Wesleys and Whitefield had been in 
America years before. A few Methodist emigrants 
had settled in New York, Philadelphia, and parts of 
Maryland, and Wesley had sent over missionaries in 
the persons of Messrs. Boardman, Pilmoor, and Wil- 
liams but two years before. These missionaries had 


entered upon their work of feeding the flock of Christ 
in the New World. When at this Conference Mr. 
Wesley called for volunteers for the work in 
America, among the first that responded was As- 
bury. He had prayerfully considered the matter, 
and being satisfied that it was the will of God he 
should enter upon the work, he " conferred not with 
flesh and blood," but accepted the call, and from that 
moment his heart was in America, 



Asbury returns Home Encounters Trials His Mother Visits the 
Scenes of his early Labors Parting with Parents Bristol Outfit 
Richard Wright Embarkation Sickness Preaching on board by 
Wright Self-examination Motives Reflections His first Sermon 
at Sea Advantage of Trials Books read on the Voyage Study of 
the Bible His Heart bound to America Personal Religion Full 
Consecration to his Mission Last Sermon on Shipboard Gale 
Sight of Land Voyage ended Reception in Philadelphia Preach- 
ing by Pilmoor Progress of Methodism Encouragement The 
Soldier Preacher. 

HAYING consecrated all upon the altar of American 
missions, Asbury left the seat of the Conference and 
turned his face homeward. Already he had passed 
through severe conflicts, which served as a discipline 
to prepare him for the great work to which he had 
devoted himself; but other and yet severer trials 
awaited him. How he should communicate the intel- 
ligence to his kind and gentle-hearted mother, that 
he had entered into an engagement to leave the home 
of his youth, perhaps never to return, was a question 
that greatly perplexed him. Difficult and trying as 
was the task, he was enabled, however, to accomplish 
it, and she who had trained him for God and his 
cause in a spirit of genuine self-sacrifice, not only 
calmly, but heroically gave him up. Like the 
mother of the Wesleys, who, when asked if she was 


willing to give up her son John to go to the wilds of 
America as a missionary among the savages of 
Georgia, replied, " If I had twenty sons I would 
cheerfully give them all to God as missionaries," so 
the mother of Asbury gave up her only son with 
Christian resignation, and cheerful acquiescence in 
the leadings of Providence. 

Prior to taking farewell of his parents, and bidding 
a final adieu to home and friends, he started out on 
an itinerant tour for the purpose of visiting the scenes 
of his early labors. He preached in Staffordshire, 
"Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire, and enjoyed much 
life and power in his ministrations. Wherever he 
went he announced his determination to go out as a 
missionary, and excited no little wonder among his 
friends, though none of them attempted to dissuade 
him from so noble and glorious an undertaking. 
Some were so impressed with its importance that 
they were constrained to speak in warm terms of the 
purpose he had formed, and regretted that they could 
not accompany him. 

At length the hour arrived when he was to take his 
leave of fond parents and make preparations for his 
departure. Tears were shed, but they were the tears 
of sanctified affection and hopeful trust in God, who 
had called the parents to give up their son, and the 
son to go to a land of strangers to preach the Gospel. 
He arrived at Bristol, near which he was to take 

1 1- LIF1-: AND T1MKS <>F 

shipping iV.r America, hi the latter part of August. 
II is (.in jit was of the slende real kind, consist ing of a, 
few ]><>imds and a small amount of clothing. At 
]rist<>l lie met Richard Wright, a young man wh<> 
had been in the itinerant connection but one year, 
but who, impressed with the importance of the mis- 
sionary work, had volunteered to accompany him. 

On the 4th of September they embarked and were 
soon fairly out at sea. That vexatious accompaniment 
of a voyage, seasickness, Asbury did not escape, and 
such sickness, to use his own language, as was un- 
equaled by any he had ever experienced. AVlien the 
Sabbath came his colleague preached on deck to the 
crew, who were attentive listeners to the word of 
life. After recovering from his illness, in a calm 
and thoughtful mood he went into a thorough self- 

o o 

examination in regard to the motives that prompted 
him to engage in the missionary work. As if mis- 
trustful and afraid of the deceitfulness of the human 
heart, he instituted a most searching analysis, and 
was enabled to arrive at the following result : 
namely, that his visit to the Xew World was not to 
gain honor or emolument, but clearly and simply to 
devote himself to the service of God, and incite others 
to the same hallowed consecration. 

He was bv no means ignorant of the religious con- 

i' O O 

dition of the people among whom he was going to 
labor, but had acquainted himself with the state of 


the Churches, and all the religious movements of the 
country. He had studied the means connected with 
the revivals in America, and also the causes of their 
decline, as they had been exhibited in the reports 
which came to England ; and from what he knew of 
the effects attending the preaching of the Gospel by 
the Methodists, and the discipline as administered by 
them, he felt impressed with the fact that, as well in 
America as in England, these agencies were peculi- 
arly adapted to the awakening and conversion of 
souls, and the training of the Church to a holy life. 
The signal success which had crowned the labors of 
Wesley and his coadjutors in England, he felt as- 
sured would attend the labors of the missionaries 
in America, if faithful to their high and responsible 
trust. He had determined, in this view of the case, 
if God did not own and bless his labors after having 
made a full and fair trial, that he would not remain 
in America, but return to England. 

The second Sabbath at sea having arrived, Asbury 
preached his first sermon to the sailors from Acts 
xvii, 30 : " But now God commandeth all men every- 
where to repent." He had a strong and irrepressi- 
ble desire that the hardy sons of the ocean might be 
brought to repentance, and that before he reached his 
destination he might behold some fruit of the labors 
bestowed. He felt willing to do or suffer anything 
if he could only be instrumental in saving souls, 


hence he bore cheerfully the privations and hard- 
ships of the voyage. Having no beds, and being 
obliged, with his colleague, to sleep on hard boards, 
he realized the importance of possessing much courage 
and patience, and was not a little comforted by the 
thought that if others could undergo hardships for 
mere temporal interests, he surely should not com- 
plain where eternal interests were involved. His 
trials had a tendency to increase and fasten the im- 
pression that he was, to use his own words, not run- 
ning before he was sent ; and hence, as these trials in- 
creased, he became more and more convinced that he 
was acting in accordance with the Divine will. 

Regularly as the Sabbath returned he preached to 
the ship's company. His subjects were adapted to 
his audience, and were treated in the most plain and 
pointed manner. The sailors all seemed to give great 
attention to the word, but whether any were con- 
verted during the voyage was not known to him who 
labored with all zeal and fidelity to bring them to a 
saving knowledge of the truth. During the passage 
he spent much of his time in reading, meditation, and 
prayer. The books which he read were Sellon's An- 
swer to Elisha Cole, which he thought no one could 
read and be a Calvinist; De Renty's Life, Xorris's 
Works, Edwards on the Work of God in Xew En- 
gland, Wesley's Sermons, and the Pilgrim's Progress. 
The Bible, however, was his constant companion, and 


this he studied with increasing interest, pouring out 
his soul in prayer to the Father of lights that he 
might have a clear vision of those wondrous truths 
which it contains, and be able to interpret it in such 
a manner that all who heard might receive a portion 
adapted to their condition. 

While shut up in his cabin he felt his heart 
strangely drawn out for America, and he realized a 
wonderful sympathy and union of spirit with those 
who to him as yet were strangers. The spirit of sym- 
pathy which exists in all who realize a love for souls, 
and which constrains them to encounter toil, priva- 
tion, and hardships for their salvation, was felt by 
Asbury in an extraordinary degree. As a true evan- 
gelical preacher, he was not a stranger to that love 
which prompted the Saviour to give his life a ransom 
for man ; and now that it no longer remained a ques- 
tion in regard to his call to preach the Gospel in 
America, the people to whom he was going to minis- 
ter, and for whose salvation he was about to labor, 
became endeared to him by the strongest and tender- 
est ties. Associated with this was a deep and earnest 
desire, accompanied by incessant prayer, that he 
might be " complete in all the will of God, and holy 
in all manner of conversation, as He that had called 
him was holy." Every day he realized an increasing 
singleness of purpose in regard to the object of his 
mission ; and as the vessel approached the American 


shore, he was conscious of a consecration to God and 
his cause more full and satisfactory than he ever ex- 
perienced before. 

On the 13th of October he preached his fifth and 
last sermon on board. The wind was high, and the 
ship tossed exceedingly, rendering it difficult for one 
to stand on deck. Determined, however, to lose no 
opportunity of preaching to the sailors, he fixed him- 
self airainst the mast, and discoursed with warmth, and 

^ ' 

freedom from 2 Corinthians, v, 20 : " Now then we 
are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech 
you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye recon- 
ciled to God." In alluding to this, his last sermon on 
board, he says " he felt the power of truth in his own 
soul, though he saw no visible fruit of his labors." 

After a voyage of eight weeks, during which many 
privations were encountered and hardships endured, 
the joyous intelligence that they were in sight of 
land was received gratefully by the missionaries. 
Though another Sabbath intervened between his last 
sermon and their entry into port at Philadelphia, 
yet Asbury gives no account of the manner in which 
it was spent. The tedious voyage at length was 
brought to a close, and it was with emotions of pro- 
found gratitude to God for that providence which 
had guided them safely through the deep, that he 
and his colleague placed their feet on the American 
shore. HOW T was that gratitude increased when on 


landing they were received with the utmost kindness, 
and introduced to the largest hospitality ! In refer- 
ring to their reception, Asbury says: "The people 
looked on us with pleasure, hardly knowing how to 
show their love sufficiently, bidding us welcome with 

*/ 7 CJ 

fervent affection, and receiving us as the angels of 

The first evening spent in Philadelphia was at the 
old St. George's Church, where they listened to a dis- 
course from Joseph Pilmoor, who came to America 
with Boardman in 1769, the first missionaries sent 
over by Wesley. The arrival of Asbury and "Wright 
as a re-enforcement to the clerical ranks of the infant 
Church in America was hailed with joy, and the 
large congregation assembled were greatly quick- 
ened and refreshed in their spirits by their presence. 
Though but five years had elapsed since the intro- 
duction of Methodism into the country through the 
labors of Embury, Webb, and Strawbridge, yet con- 
siderable societies had been -formed in New York 
and Philadelphia, and in different parts of JSTew Jer- 
sey, Maryland, and Virginia. In that short space 
" the little one had become a thousand ;" and so 
wonderfully did the word of God grow and prevail 
through the instrumentality of these pioneers of 
Methodism, that the highest hopes were encouraged 
of the most abundant success. 

To Captain Webb, the soldier-preacher, is perhaps 



to be ascribed the honor of introducing Methodism 
into Philadelphia. After he had removed from 
Albany to Long Island he extended his labors to 
Philadelphia, where he preached with success, and 
was the first to write to Mr. Wesley urging him to 
send preachers to America. Be this as it may, one 
thing is certain, that in Kew York and Philadelphia, 
as well as several points on Long Island, the captain, 
by his zeal and devotion to the cause of God, and the 
material aid which he afforded to the infant societies, 
was of vast service to the Church, and deserves to be 
ranked among its pioneer worthies. 



Commercial Intercourse between England and the United States Mer- 
chants of New York Philadelphia Merchants Students at Prince- 
ton Eeception of New York Merchants' Letter in Boston Patriots 
of the South Colony of Massachusetts put under Martial Law Har- 
bor of Boston and Castle William Mediation of Franklin Valley of 
the Mississippi Six Nations "Western Explorations Washington 
selects Lands for Soldiers Boone the Pioneer Hunter Regulators 
Their Representative imprisoned Battle Proclamation Cen- 
tralization of Power Unjust Taxation Protest of Samuel Adams 
Franklin's Prediction Vessels of War in Boston Harbor Ministers 
of Boston refuse to read the Governor's Thanksgiving Proclamation 
Evils of Slavery in Virginia Proclamation of the King Jefferson 
Lee Henry Appeal to the King Franklin First Eeligious Sects 
in the Country Queen Elizabeth's Grant Grant of Charles II. 
Puritans Lutherans Baptists Reformed Dutch Presbyterians 
-Roman Catholics. 

BEFOEE resuming the thread of personal narrative in 
the biography of Asbniy, it may not be amiss, as we 
contemplate a sketch of the times as well as the life 
of that remarkable man, to call the attention of the 
reader to the condition and circumstances of the 
American colonies at the time of his arrival in this 
country. But one year before the landing of Asbury 
great joy prevailed in London on the reception of 
the intelligence that commercial intercourse was 
about to be resumed between England and the 
United States. Merchants of E"ew York consulted 
those of Philadelphia on agreeing to a general im- 
portation of all articles, tea only excepted. The 


proposition was favorably received by the Phila- 
delphians, and would doubtless have been agreed 
to but for the reception of a letter from Franklin, 
urging them to persevere on their original plan. 
Some leading merchants in New York, however, 
resisted concession ; but others went from ward to 
ward to take the opinions of the people, and it was 
ascertained that a large majority were disposed to 
confine the restrictions to tea alone. The Phila- 
delphians were incensed at this decision, and when 
the packet sailed with orders for all kinds of mer- 
chandise except tea, they said to the New Yorkers : 
"Send us your old Liberty Pole, as you can have 
no further use for it." The students at Princeton 
burned the letter of the New York merchants by 
the hands of the common hangman. Boston tore it 
to pieces, and threw it to the winds ; South Carolina, 
whose patriots had just raised the statue to Chatham, 
read it with scorn. 

It was not long, however, before the colony of 
Massachusetts was proclaimed by the king to be 
under martial law. The harbor of Boston was made 
a rendezvous for all ships stationed in North America, 
and the fortress which commanded it was given up 
to be garrisoned by regular troops. Castle William 
was taken from the governor, and remained in pos- 
session of England for upward of five years. Frank- 
lin, who then held the office of deputy postmaster 



general under the crown, was selected as the agent 
of the assembly to redress their grievances, and be 
their mediator with the mother country. He was 
now in the sixty -fourth year of his age. The author- 
ities of the king took care to negative all appropria- 
tions for his salary, and determined not to recognize 
him as an a^ent. 


Such being the condition of things in the East, we 
now turn to the West. The inchoate title of all that 
vast territory in the Mississippi valley had been re- 
ceived from the Six Nations. The people of Vir- 
ginia and others were exploring and surveying the 
richest lands on the waters of the Redstone, Monon- 
gahela, Ohio, and Kanawha, and each year they 
were penetrating further south and west. Washing- 
ton had descended the Ohio in a canoe, and made 
selections of the richest lands for the soldiers and 
officers who had served with him in the French 
war. At the same time Boone, the pioneer hunter, 
was exploring Kentucky, and the " Long Hunters ' 
had found their way down the Cumberland to Lime- 
stone Bluff, where Nashville now stands. Trappers 
and restless emigrants had crossed the country from 
Carolina to the Mississippi, while others descended 
from Pittsburg to Natchez ; and James Robertson, 
from the home of the Regulators in North Carolina, 
had explored Tennessee. He was followed by others 
from the same region, and became their guide and 


protector. The Regulators had become a formidable 
body, and when they were not allowed peaceably to 
possess their lands, which they explored, but were 
oppressed by lawyers, proprietors, and landjobbers, 
they resolved on seeking redress. They accordingly 
appeared at court, determined to have justice done, 
and that without the interference of any attorney 
save the king's. They elected a representative to 
the House, but he was voted a disturber of the 
peace, and put in prison. A riot act was gotten up, 
declaring it illegal for more than ten men to remain 
assembled together after it was read, and if any were 
found guilty of its violation they were tried in the 
Superior Court, and if condemned forfeited their 
lives, with all their property. 

The Regulators gathered together in the woods on 
hearing that their representative was expelled and 
imprisoned and they themselves threatened with 
death as outlaws. Their number had increased to 
five hundred, and they demanded his release, w r hich 
was reluctantly granted. A battle afterward oc- 
curred between them and the king's troops on the 
Alamance River, in which twenty of them were 
killed and several wounded. Of the king's troops, 
nine were killed and sixty-one wounded. One of 
the Regulators who was taken prisoner was hanged 
on a tree ; then followed a proclamation excepting 
from mercy outlaws and prisoners, and promising it 


to none but such as would take the oath of allegi- 
ance, pay taxes, submit to the laws, and deliver up 
their arms. Six more of them were afterward taken 
and hung. At length they sought the far-off wilder- 
ness, where no lawyers could follow them or govern- 
ors lord it over them, and there they took up their 
abode on the romantic banks of the Nolichucky. 
Before them spread away an immense forest abound- 
ing in game, and possessed of a rich and fertile soil. 
In 1771, the year that Asbury landed in America, 
Great Britain commenced the work of centering 
in itself power over the colonies, by the double 
process of making all civil officers dependent for sup- 
port solely upon the king, and giving to arbritrary in- 
structions an authority paramount to the charter and 
laws. Taxation unjust and unequal was forced upon 
the colonists until forbearance ceased any longer to be 
a virtue. Samuel Adams protested in the House 
against this unrighteous usurpation in the following 
words : " We know of no commissioners of his majes- 
ty's customs, nor of any revenue his majesty has a 
right to establish in North America ; we know and 
feel a tribute levied and extorted from those who if 
they have property have a right to the disposal of it." 
"Wise men saw the event that was approaching, but 
knew not that it was so near. " Out of the eater came 
forth meat, 1 ' said Cooper, the clergyman ; and Franklin 
foretold a bloody struggle, in which America, grow- 


ing in strength and magnitude, would obtain the vic- 
tory. Instructions were drawn up by Samuel Adams 
to the agent of the House, avowing broadly the prin- 
ciple that colonial legislation was free of Parliament 
and of royal instructions. That sturdy patriot had 
declared long before at a town meeting : " Independ- 
ent we are and independent we will be." Things 
were approaching a crisis. In August Boston saw 
drawn up in her harbor twelve vessels of war, carrying 
more than two hundred and sixty guns. In the West 
the same resistance showed itself against the concen- 
tration of colonial power in England, and the rights 
of freemen were as loudly demanded on the prairies 
of Illinois as on the heights of Boston. 

The governor, in his annual proclamation for the 
festival of thanksgiving, which was customary to be 
read from every pulpit, sought to ensnare the clergy 
of Boston by enumerating as a cause for thanksgiving 
that " civil and religious liberties were continued," 
and " trade enlarged." The deception was too trans- 
parent, and the result was that all the ministers except 
one refused to read it ; and when he, of whose Church 
the governor was a member, began confusedly to do 
so, the patriots of the congregation turned their backs 
on him, and marched out of the church with intense 
disgust and indignation. Nearly all the clergy agreed 
on thanksgiving day to implore of Almighty God the 
restoration of their lost liberty. 


Tliis last event occurred just one month after As- 
bury put his foot in the streets of Philadelphia, and 
the reader will see what was the precise condition of 
the country synchronical with the advent of him who 
was to take so large a share in its ecclesiastical as 
well as general history. The rough and rapid outline 
which we have given of the colonial history at that 
time is important, more from the light which it will 
throw upon the subsequent life, character, and acts 
of Asbury than from any design to present it as a 
part of the history of the times. There are other 
matters, however, deserving attention, and which, 
must not be omitted. 

The inhabitants of Virginia were oppressed by the 
central authority on a subject of still more vital inter- 
est to them and their posterity. Their halls of legis- 
lation had resounded with eloquent denunciations 
against the terrible evil of slavery. Again and again 
had they passed laws restraining the importation of 
negroes from Africa, but all their enactments on this 
subject were disregarded. How to prevent the Yir- 
ginians from protecting themselves against the increase 
of this evil was debated by King George in council, 
and on the 10th of December, 1770, he issued a proc- 
lamation under his own hand, commanding the gov- 
ernor " upon pain of the highest displeasure to assent 
to no law by which the importation of slaves should 
be in any respect prohibited or obstructed." This 


rigorous order was solemnly debated in the Assem- 
bly of Virginia. They felt the necessity of an act to 
restrain the introduction of a race, the number of 
which already in the colony gave them just cause to 
apprehend the most alarming consequences, and they 
felt impelled by the circumstances of the case to seek 
some means by which not only their increase would 
be prevented but diminished. The interest of the 
country they declared " manifestly required their 
total expulsion." Jefferson, like Richard Henry Lee, 
had begun his legislative career by resisting the slave- 
trade. To the mind of Patrick Henry, the thought 
of slavery darkened the picture of the future, even 
while he cherished faith in the ultimate abolition of 
an evil which was opposed to the welfare of the 
country. Instead of laying their grievances before 
Parliament, they presented their appeal directly to 
the king. Their language was : " The importation of 
slaves into the colonies from the coast of Africa hath 
long been considered a trade of great inhumanity, and 
under its present encouragement we have too much 
reason to fear it will endanger the very existence 

o / 

of your majesty's American dominions. We are sen- 
sible that some of your majesty's subjects in Great 
Britain may reap emoluments from this sort of 
traffic ; but when we consider that it greatly retards 
the settlement of the colonies with more useful in- 
habitants, and may in time have the most destructive 


influence, we presume to hope that the interest of a 
few will be disregarded when placed in competition 
with the security and happiness of such numbers of 
your majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects. Deeply 
impressed with these sentiments, we most humbly 
beseech your majesty to remove all those restraints 
on your majesty's governors of this colony which in- 
hibit their assenting to such laws as might check so 

pernicious a commerce." 

In this manner Virginia led the way in the con- 
demnation of the slave-trade. Thousands in Mary- 
land and New Jersey were ready to adopt a similar 
petition, and so also were the Legislatures of North 
Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachu- 
setts. There was no conflict of opinion on this sub- 
ject in the colonies. Virginia harmonized all opin- 
ions, and represented the moral sentiment and policy 
of all. Franklin roused the attention of the people and 
ministers to the subject through the press. The king, 
however, was inexorable ; and while the courts of law 
adopted the axiom that as soon as a slave sets his foot 
on English ground he is free, the monarch stood in 
the path of humanity, and made himself the pillar of 
the colonial slave-trade. 

Having glanced at the political and civil condition 
of the country, it may be considered of equal, and per- 
haps of greater importance, that allusion be made to 
its religious condition. This we have as yet but 

60 LIli: AM' TIM IS OF 

barely hinted at, and >hall. as far as the materials at 


our command will allow, present the reader with an 
outline sketch of the condition and circumstances of 
the various denominations in the land. 

The first religious sects that came to this country 
were the Episcopalians, the Puritans, and the Luther- 
ans. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was the first who direct- 
ed his attention to this country from religious con- 
siderations, if we except the Jesuit missionaries, who 
had, with a courage and constancy so characteristic of 
that order, braved the dangers of the ocean, and pen- 
etrating the far-off wildernesses of the north, and 
west, and south, planted the cross and established 
missions among the native inhabitants. Among the 
motives presented to Queen Elizabeth by Sir Hum- 
phrey, for founding religious settlements, were 
" honor for God, compassion on poor infidels cap- 
tivated by the devil, and the relief of sundry 
people within that realm distressed." The letters 
patent received from the queen proceed upon the 
supposition, that " the spread of the Christian faith 
among the natives justified such settlements," and he 
was " granted full power and liberty to discover all 
such heathen lands as were* not actually possessed by 
any Christian prince or people." He was authorized 
to enact laws over two hundred leagues of settlement, 
provided they did not conflict with the laws and 
policy of England, and were not against the true 


Christian faith professed in the Church of England." 
Associating with himself his relative, Sir Walter 
Raleigh, an expedition was sent out in 1584, and the 
glowing description of the country made to the 
queen induced her to bestow upon the whole coun- 
try the name of Virginia. The following year one 
hundred more colonists were sent out. In 1606 a 
new company applied for and obtained from James I. 
a charter for the settling of Virginia. The charter 
expressly provided that the colonists should " secure 
the true service and preaching of the word of God, 
and that it should be planted and used according to 
the rites and doctrines of the Church of England, not 
only in the said colonies, but among the savages 
bordering upon them, and that all persons should 
kindly treat the savage and heathen people in those 
parts, and use all proper means to draw them to the 
true service and knowledge of God." The expe- 
dition sailed in December, 1606, and landed at Cape 
Henry, in Virginia, April, 1607. It was accompanied 
by the Rev. Robert Hunt, their minister, who admin- 
istered the holy sacrament on their arrival on the 
shores of James River. Rev. Mr. Whitaker followed 
soon after and joined the Colonial Church, and was 
denominated the Apostle of Virginia. This minister 
was the first Protestant who baptized an Indian con- 
vert, and that first convert was Pocahontas. Subse- 
quently, in 1679, a grant was given by Charles II. for 


erecting a church in Boston, which was called the 
King's Chapel. In 1784 the Episcopal Church became 
independent of the English, and assumed the name of 
the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, 
and Rev. Drs. "White, of Philadelphia, and Provoost, 
of Xew York, were consecrated by the Archbishop 
of Canterbury the bishops of that Church in 1787. 

The next denomination in the order of time that 
was introduced into the country was the Puritans, 
or Congregationalists. This people sought these 
shores as an asylum for conscience. A large num- 
ber, after braving the dangers and rigors of a wintry 
ocean, landed at Plymouth, in Massachusetts. On 
the Sabbath of the 31st of December, 1620, they 
went on shore, and held Divine service. In 1629 a 
Church was organized at Salem ; one in Charles- 
town in 1630 ; one in Duxbury in 1632 ; and others 
soon after in Connecticut. Emigrants who arrived 
from England from time to time, differed from them, 
in their theological views and polity ; but as they 
wished to have Church matters consolidated, after 
several councils an arrangement was made to unite 
them in the general principles of Congregationalism. 
Their early efforts in the cause of learning are 
worthy of all praise. They founded Harvard Col- 

t/ A / 

lege, at Cambridge, in 1635. 

The Rev. John Eliot, one of their early ministers, 
became the pastor of the church in Roxbury in 1646, 


and was the first Protestant missionary to the In- 
dians. His whole life was spent in labors for 
their conversion. He was emphatically the apostle 
to the Indians, and many were converted through 
his instrumentality. He translated the Bible into 
native Indian, and it was the first Bible printed 
in this country the New Testament in 1661, and 
the Old in 1663. Churches were organized in 
New Hampshire, New York, and other parts of 
the country. To Harvard has been added Yale 
and other colleges, the pride of the land. No 
Church has ever been blessed with more learned or 
pious ministers than has the Congregational. The 
number of churches gathered in Massachusetts from 
1770 to 1780 was twenty. 

Next we notice the Lutherans. The earliest set- 
tlement of this denomination in this country was 
made by emigrants from Holland to New York, soon 
after the first establishment of the Dutch in that city 
in 1621. The cause of this emigration was the in- 
tolerant decrees of the Synod of Dort in 1648. 
While the territory yet belonged to Holland, the 
few Low Dutch Lutherans were compelled to hold 
their worship in private ; but after it passed into the 
hands of the British, in 1664, liberty was granted them 
by all the successive governors to conduct their pub- 
lic worship without any obstruction. Thus we see 
that the establishment of the Lutherans in New York 


was but a short time after that of the Puritans in 
Massachusetts. The Eev. Jacob Fabricus was their 
iirst minister, and was very successful. Though they 
spread and increased in various parts of the country, 
yet it is somewhat remarkable that they never made 
much progress in New York, where they com- 
menced. In 1748 there were eleven Lutheran 
ministers in the United States ; the number of con- 
gregations was about forty, and the Lutheran popula- 
tion was estimated at sixty thousand. 

The Associated Baptists next claim our attention. 
Some of the first emigrants who planted New England 
were Baptists. Roger Williams arrived at Nantucket 
in 1631, and from his energetic piety was soon 
invited to become assistant minister at Salem. Not 
long after he was accused of " embracing principles 
which tended to Anabaptism," and was at length 
driven from the colony, and sought refuge among 
the Indians in Ehode Island. In 1639 he was bap- 
tized, with ten others, and they unitedly formed the 
first Baptist Church at Providence. A few years 
previous to his baptism, though unknown to him, a 
distinguished Baptist minister from London arrived in 
Boston, where he remained some time, diffusing 
Baptist principles. He subsequently took charge of 
the church in Dover. The attempt to organize a 
Baptist Church in Weymouth was resisted by the 
court of Boston. Several of the members were 


fined, imprisoned, and disfranchised by the Puritans. 
In 1644 a poor man became a Baptist, and was 
complained of to the court for not having his child 
baptized, and because he refused was tied up and 
whipped. Three men of Lynn were complained of 
for being Anabaptists, and were fined. In 1761 a 
Church was organized in Ashfield, Massachusetts, 
and the Rev. Ebenezer Smith was ordained over 
them. The Baptists were taxed for the support 
of the Puritan Church, and their lands were sold 
to pay the taxes. A Church was organized in 
Swansea in 1663 ; another at Welsh Tract, in Dela- 
ware, in 1701 ; another in Prince George County, 
Virginia, in 1714; and still another in New York 
in 1762. Subsequently Churches were organized in 
other states, and the Baptists spread rapidly. 

In 166i the Sabbatarian, or Seventh-Day Baptists 
organized Churches in Rhode Island. In 1708 the 
Seventh-Day German Baptists organized a Church 
in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. 

The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church was 
among the earliest organized in the country. The 
Dutch from Holland first discovered the rivers Hud- 
son and Connecticut in 1609, and shortly after they 
erected cabins on Manhattan Island, where New 
York now stands. The town, which was called New 
Amsterdam, increased in size and importance from 
year to year as fresh emigrants arrived. Educated 



as the inhabitants were in the national Church, they 
brought with them strong religious prejudices. A 
Church was gathered in New York in 1619, and 
there was one at Albany at an earlier period. The 
first regular minister of the Gospel settled at New 
York was Rev. Everardus Bogardus, and the Dutch 
language was exclusively used in the churches until 
176-i, when Rev. Mr. Laidlie, a Scotch minister from 
Flushing, in Holland, connected himself with the 
Dutch Church, and was invited to New York to 
commence service in the English language. The 
Dutch Church extended to New Jersey, Connecticut, 
and elsewhere ; but though it acquired strength and 
influence in New York, it made little progress in 
other places. 

"We have not space in this chapter to enumerate 
all the denominations "that had an existence in this 
country prior to the introduction of Methodism ; but 
we cannot close without noticing the Presbyterian 
Church, which dates back to an early day. Scotch 
and Irish Presbyterians came to this country as early 
as 16iO, and according to Cotton Mather four thou- 

' O 

sand Presbyterians arrived in New England. At a 
later period Londonderry, in New Hampshire, was 
founded by a hundred families of Irish Presbyterians, 
who brought their pastor with them and organized a 
Church. Another Church was formed in Boston in 
1729, and it remained such until 1786, when it became 


Congregational. In the year 1737 five hundred ar- 
rived from Scotland and settled in New York, and 
subsequently Scotch and Irish colonists settled in 
Ulster county, and also at Orange and Albany. New 
Jersey, and particularly the eastern part of it, became 
the home and possession of the Presbyterians, and 
they maintain it to a considerable extent to this day. 
The largest emigration, however, was to Pennsylvania, 
where, it is said, in 1729 nearly six thousand arrived, 
and from that time up to the middle of the century 
as many as twelve thousand came over every year. 
From Pennsylvania they emigrated in large numbers 
to Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and in 
1773 no fewer than sixteen hundred from the north 
of Ireland settled in South Carolina. Georgia too 
was partly colonized by Scotch and Irish Presbyte- 

Maryland was largely settled by English Roman 
Catholic families brought over by Lord Baltimore, 
and the Roman religion for many years exerted a 
predominant influence upon the population. This 
state has been regarded as the stronghold of Roman- 
ism, and had that Church possessed the vitality of 
Protestant Churches, it might have spread more ex- 
tensively than it has in the United States. Roman 
Catholic voyagers and priests were the first to cast 
eyes upon this vast inheritance, the first to explore 
its mighty rivers and broad prairies, and the first to 


plant the cross and break the silence of the wilderness 
with the voice of prayer and praise. It was doubtless 
reserved under God to be the fortress and stronghold 
of a Protestant Christianity, offering an asylum to the 
oppressed of every clime, and holding up, by the ex- 
ample of freedom of conscience, a beacon of hope to 
the persecuted of all lands. 

A report was sent to the Bishop of London in the 
year 1761, which presents the numbers of the different 
religious denominations, embracing the Jews and 
Catholics. The number given amounted in all to one 
million eighty-four thousand, only sixty thousand 
short of the entire population. Where was ever such 
an exhibit presented to the world in modern times ? 
This, however, was merely a nominal membership. 



Colonial Period Colonists in a State of Eebellion Church and State 
Religious Denominations Persecutions The " Great Awakening " 
Decline in Religion The "Wesleys Their Labors in America Method- 
ist Emigrants Philip Embury in New York First Meeting Subse- 
quent Meetings Incidental Remarks in relation to Local Preachers 
The Value of their Labors in early Times First Methodist Preaching 
in America The little Band in Barrack-street Workshop Secret of 
the Success of the early Preachers Embury as a Preacher Conversion 
of an English Officer Becomes a Local Preacher Ordered to America 
and stationed at Albany - - Visits Xew York and preaches for the Meth- 
odists Multitudes attracted Place too small Larger Room obtained 
Opposition First Methodist Church built Reinforcement of Preach- 
ers sent over by Wesley Pilmoor's Letter to Wesley Strawbridge in 
Maryland Boardman in Philadelphia Letter to Wesley. 

THE period about which we have been writing, 
denominated the Colonial Period, was peculiarly 
marked. Many events of a striking and interesting 
character had transpired which cast their significant 
shadows into the future, indicating a crisis which 
could not long be delayed. It required not the ken 
of a prophet to see that the great privations, toils, and 
sufferings of the colonists would serve as a discipline, 
in the exercise of which they would be enabled to 
work out their salvation. The oppression by the 
government of Great Britain, which sought by its 
unrighteous exactions to crush out the spirit of liberty 
and independence, had evidently reached that point 
in human endurance when patience exhausted would 


give place to resistance, and when, instead of feeling 
it to be a duty to obey the reigning power, the sub- 
jects would be as strongly impressed with a sentiment 
if not quite as loyal, at least as patriotic and right, 
that "" Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." 

At the time our sketch of Asbury's arrival in 
America commences, the colonists were in a state of 
rebellion, and just on the eve of a revolution. Up to 
this period there was a union of Church and state, 
as well as a union with the British government. 
They had yet to learn the practicability of a Church 
without a politico-ecclesiastical government, and also 
that of a state without a king. We have already 
seen that the denominations of the Old World were 
pretty thoroughly represented in the provinces of the 
Xew. It must, however, always be an occasion of 
regret, that while most of them had been driven to 
this land, or at least exiled themselves on account of 
the persecutions which they suffered, they should so 
soon forget the rock from whence they were hewn, 
and the bondage from which they had been delivered, 
as to bear away with them to the land of their exile 
the spirit of their oppressors. It may have been 
that, in consequence of being so long under the 
influence of oppression at home, they had caught 
the contagion and brought it to this land. Cer- 
tain it is, whatever may have been the cause, the 
oppressed were not long in the enjoyment of the 


rights of conscience before they became oppressors 
themselves. The very Puritans, of whom it is said 
by the poet, 

" They left unstained what here they found, 
Freedom to worship God," 

were not exactly what the poet represented. If it 
could be said that they left all men to the enjoyment 
of freedom of opinion and the rights of conscience, 
they were particularly careful to have that freedom 
of opinion to quadrate with their own notions in re- 
spect to religion. In other words, every man was 
perfectly free to think as they should dictate. His 
thoughts might flow freely, but it must be in the 
channel which the Puritans had excavated. Their 
persecutions of the Baptists and the in offend ing 
Quakers must ever constitute a sad and melancholy 
passage in their history. ~Nor were they alone in 
manifesting a persecuting spirit. The Episcopalians 
in the southern provinces persecuted the Presby- 
terians, and a rivalry and hostility existed among the 
sects in all parts of the country to a greater extent, if 
not more rancorous, than has been exhibited since 
that day. 

The revival of religion which spread over the 
country, denominated " The Great Awakening," and 
which was brought about by the faithful labors of 
Edwards, Prince, Frelinghuysen, Dickinson, Finley, 


and the Tennents in the northern and middle states, 
and of Davies and others in Virginia, and the Wes- 
leys in Georgia, together with those of Whitefield, 
who traversed the continent with heart of h're and 
tongue of flame calling sinners to repentance, had 
from various causes, but particularly from the unset- 
tled and distracted state of the countrv. crone into 

/ 3 O 

a sad decline. The Churches were in a dead state, 
and the Spirit of peace, which flies from scenes 
of strife and confusion, had at least for a season 

The Wesleys had returned to England, but still the 
heart of John lingered on these shores. The love 
which prompted him to come to this country more 
than a quarter of a century before, and labor for the 
perishing in the wilderness, when his mission was 
looked upon by his fellow-ministers of the Established 
Church as a wild, fanatical, Quixotic undertaking, 
had not died within him, and when among the emi- 
grants were members of his own societies, his attach- 
ments were increased instead of lessened. Of this 
number, as before remarked, a few had taken up 
their residence in ISTew York. Becoming acquainted 
with each other, they soon sought an opportunity 
of uniting together in religious worship. Their 
first place of meeting was in the private house of 
Philip Embury, who had been converted in Ire- 
land, and had heard Wesley preach in that coun- 


try. His place of residence was in Barrack-street, 
near the site of the present City Hall. Embury 
was not only a Methodist, but he sustained the rela- 
tion of a local preacher in the Wesleyan Connection 
in Ireland. Being urged to give out an appointment 
for preaching, he was at length induced to do so, and 
accordingly a meeting was subsequently appointed in 
his workshop. 

We may dwell here a moment to remark, that 
local preachers have been of eminent service to the 
Methodist Church, both in Europe and America. 
They proved valuable assistants to Wesley, and went 
everywhere, sharing his labors and reproaches in 
preaching to the destitute in town and country. 
Itinerant as was the economy of Methodism, and ex- 
tensively as did the regular preachers travel from 
place to place, yet they could not visit all places, 
and many a section of the country was prepared, 
through the labors of the local preachers, for the 
visits of Wesley and his itinerant helpers, as in the 
case of the labors of Nelson at Birstal and other 
places. But more especially have their services 
been valuable in this widely extended country, par- 
ticularly in early times. When the history of the 
Church shall have been written up, it will be found 
that in many of our large cities and towns, and popu- 
lous neighborhoods where Methodism flourishes, and 
is first for numbers and influence among the sister 

74 LIFE AND TJ.M11- uF 

Churches of these places, the seed was sown first 
by the hand of the local clergy, who labored in the 
vineyard of their Master without the hope of fee or 
reward, except what they looked for in heaven. Un- 
aided and alone, in the midst of sacrifice, toil, hard- 
ships, aye, and not unfrequently of bitter persecu- 
tion, such as would dampen the zeal and slacken the 
energies of the most of us who have entered into 
their labors, have they gone up to the high places of 
sin with the handful of corn whose spreading and 
multiplying products now " shake like Lebanon." 
All honor to those noble men who braved the toils 
and hardships incident to the planting of Methodism 
in this country ! Their " testimony is in heaven, and 
their record on high ;" and when they who sowed 
and they who reaped shall come together at the 
angel shout of harvest home, may we all rejoice 
together. As we write, a host come thronging on 
our memory. It may be said of many of them, as 
was said of an earthly warrior : 

" They sleep their last sleep, 

They have fought their last battle ;" 

and the sound that shall wake them will be the voice 
of Him who called them into the field of conflict, and 
whose Spirit nerved them for the fight. Faithful 
men, ye " have fought a good fight, have finished 
your course," and have entered into the rest and 
blessedness of heaven. 


Embury, as we have already said, was a local 
preacher, and we left him with our readers while we 
made a short digression to allude to his brethren of 
the same class in the ministry. His congregation, 
small in numbers, assembled in his shop and listened 
to his sermons. These were the first Methodist ser- 
mons preached in New York, and the members con- 
stituted in 1766 the first Methodist society formed in 
America. What a theme for reflection is suggested 
by these last two sentences ! The first sermons in 
New York to the first Methodist society in America. 
Not a century has passed away, and what results 
from this beginning ! Now the generic name 
" Methodist" covers a membership of a million and 
a half, all springing from the parent stock. For each 
and every one of that first little band there are now two 
hundred and fifty thousand. When from the top of 
the rocks we behold the plains below whitened with 
the tents of our Israel, well may we exclaim, " What 
hath God wrought!" and how vain and foolish would 


be the attempt of any crazy prophet to curse whom 
God has so signally blessed. 

The little band in Barrack-street workshop assem- 
bled from Sabbath to Sabbath, their numbers 
continually increasing. Their meetings were re- 
garded by the regular clergy of New York as ir- 
regular and fanatical proceedings, but they were not 
of sufficient importance to attract any particular 


notice. Thus they continued their worship unmo- 
lested, and it was not a great while until the shop 
became too small to hold the people, and they were 
obliged to seek for a larger place. Embury labored 
with his hands during the week for the support of 
his family, and on the Sabbath " labored in word 
and doctrine" with the little flock which had com- 
mitted itself to his care. In this he imitated the 
Apostle Paul, who wrought at his trade a year and 
a half at Corinth. ^Ve wonder not that some of our 
early local preachers did not preach better; the won- 
der is that they were able to preach at all. Their 
abilities were limited, and their facilities for theolog- 
ical attainments were less. The success which at- 
tended their ministry was to be attributed to their 
deep experience in the things of God. They were 
like Carvosso, men of faith and prayer ; and though 
they could not deliver nicely-adjusted, systematic, 
elaborate, and eloquent discourses, according to the 
homiletic model, yet they came before the people 
with hearts full of love to God and love for perishing 
souls, and their exhortations went burning to the 
hearts of their hearers, who realized that the " excel- 
lency of the power was of God and not of man." ]S"o 
knowledge of the Bible, however critical, no acquaint- 
ance with theology and Church history and govern- 
ment, however extensive, can atone for the want of a 
personal, deep, and thorough experience in religion. 


There are some things in religion that hermeneutics 
cannot interpret nor exegesis unfold. " The natural 
man knoweth not the things of the Spirit, because they 
are spiritually discerned." " The Spirit searcheth all 
things, even the deep things of God," and it is only 
in this transparent medium that they can be seen. 
Without this Divine teacher and his illumination, 
spiritual things can neither be apprehended nor ap- 
preciated. That which in its operations is sublime 
and glorious as God, is often to the unregenerate eye 
but confusion and folly. 

Embury preached "not in words of man's wis- 
dom," but in demonstration of the Spirit and of 
power. Coming before the people from time to 
time with a heart full of the love of Christ, and a 
fresh experience in religious attainment, his word 
was attended with a divine unction, and commended 
itself to the consciences of all who heard. Those 
who came within the reach of the means of grace 
were graciously benefited by the labors of this local 
preacher; but few, however, comparatively speak- 
ing, were induced to attend his ministry. The 
Wesleyans had secured but little respect as yet in 
England, and if they were even known in this coun- 
try, it was not to be expected that they would excite 
enough attention to bring many of those who were 
in the habit of going to church to visit so irregular 
and unauthorized a meeting. This state of things, 


in the providence of God, was not permitted long 
to remain. 

A rear before the time of which we are writing. 

/ O 

an English officer was induced, in the town of Bristol, 

~ ' 

England, to follow the crowd which was wending 
its way to hear "Wesley preach. His fame as a 
preacher had spread far and wide among the masses, 
and notwithstanding the opposition excited against 
him by the regular clergy, the multitude were anx- 
ious to hear him, and gladly availed themselves of 
the opportunity to do so. We would not have the 
reader entertain the idea for a moment that Wesley 
or Whitefield, who called out the masses in their 
day, were anything like some of the popular preach- 
ers of the present day in England and America. 
The novelty connected with their preaching did not 
consist in letting down the language of the pulpit to 
the slang of the stump, and merging the preacher 
into the politician. Every truth they uttered was 
grave and solemn, attended with no lightness of 
manner, foppish swagger, or artistic air, more befitting 
the clown or the stage-player than embassadors of 
Christ. " The love of Christ constrained them," and 
their earnest declaration of the truth " commended 
them to every man's conscience." They carried the 
Gospel to the uncared-for masses, and it was this con- 
cern for neglected souls which characterized all 
their labors, that won upon the hearts of the masses, 


and brought thousands of the destitute to listen to 
their ministrations. 

The English officer, more perhaps out of curiosity 
than from any religious motive, found himself in the 
midst of a crowd of earnest, zealous worshipers. The 
word of truth, plainly presented and calmly enunci- 
ated, was attended with a power which reached his 
heart. The result was the conversion of Captain 
Webb, the officer alluded to, and his subsequent 
enlistment in the army of Irnmanuel as a local 
preacher. He was soon after ordered by his gov- 
ernment to America, and subsequently to the post 
at Albany, New York, where he took up his quar- 
ters as barrack-master. It was not long before he 
heard of the small society of his brethren in New 
York, and seizing the first opportunity, he descended 
the Hudson and appeared in their midst in military 
dress. The suddenness of his appearance, and the 
strangeness of his costume in their meeting, attracted 
general attention ; but when they learned he was a 
Wesleyan Methodist preacher the interest was in- 
creased a hundred fold. When it was rumored 
abroad that a British officer would preach in full 
military dress, the new room which the society had 
obtained was by no means capacious enough to con- 
tain the crowds that flocked to hear him. Those 
who were permitted, heard the Gospel from his lips 
in demonstration of the Spirit and power. 


It soon became necessary to seek accommodations 
adapted to the increasing multitudes, who came 
out from all parts of the city to hear him. The 
society accordingly hired a large rigging loft in 
William-street ; but this did not answer the pur- 
pose long, as it was found the place was not commo- 
dious enough to accommodate the people. Unmis- 
takeable were the effects of Gospel truth on the 
hearts of the hearers, and a religious excitement, 
which always adds interest to a meeting, and in- 
creases the number of hearers, was manifested. 


Until now, as we have already remarked, the Meth- 
odists were too few and insignificant to excite at- 
tention or much opposition, except to elicit from 
grave and orthodox divines the admonition to their 
people to avoid their meetings. But now the oppo- 
sition became more apparent, and if the regular 
clergy could well have accomplished it, they would 
have put a stop to these irregular proceedings. It 
was all, however, of no avail; the people would come 
to meeting, and many were awakened and converted. 
To accommodate the society and congregation, as 
well as to obtain " a local habitation and a name," 
it was determined to select a suitable site and erect 
a church. A lot was accordingly obtained on John- 
street, and a plain, unpretending house of worship 
erected thereon, which, on the 30th of October, 
1768, was dedicated by Embury with appropriate 


religious services. This was the first Methodist 
church in America, and a thousand hallowed asso- 
ciations gather around the spot where it stood. 

"Wesley having heard of the movements of this 
infant society, addressed them a letter of encourage- 
ment, accompanying it with a subscription of two 
hundred and fifty dollars, and at the same time send- 
ing them two preachers in the persons of Richard 
Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor. These missionaries 
landed in Philadelphia in 1769, and Boardman pro- 
ceeded immediately to. New York, where, in the 
city and surrounding country, he entered upon his 
labors. Captain "Webb, in the mean time, like a 
true evangelist, visited Long Island, preaching the 
Gospel in several places, and extended his labors as 
far as Philadelphia, and for the first time many were 
privileged to hear Methodist preaching. In 1769 
Pilmoor addressed a letter to Wesley containing the 
following : " I have preached several times, and the 
people flock to hear in multitudes. Sunday evening 
I went out upon the Common. I had the stage ap- 
pointed for the horse-race for my pulpit, and I think 
between four and five thousand people, who heard 
with an attention still as night. Blessed be God for 
field preaching !" 

About this time Robert Strawbridge, from Ireland, 
a local preacher of considerable eminence, settled 

in Frederick County, Maryland, and commenced 



preaching in his own house with an earnestness and 
power characteristic of the sons of the Emerald Isle. 
He was enabled soon to erect a log church, and or- 
ganize a small society. The companion of Board- 
man, Mr. Pilmoor, having ministered the word of 
life to the society at Philadelphia, which numbered 
one hundred, directed his course to Maryland, and 
entered into the labors of Strawbridge, greatly to 
the spiritual edification and comfort of the little 
flock. He also visited Virginia and North Carolina. 


The next year the hearts of the brethren were 
strengthened by the additional arrival of Robert 
Williams and John King, local preachers from 

In April, 1771, Boardman addressed a letter from 
New York to Wesley, giving an account of a revival 
in which thirty were added to the society, five of 
whom were converted. He speaks highly of the 
attainments of the clergy of the English and Dutch 
Churches of the city of New York, and regarded 
them as the best in America. His letter concludes 
by expressing an earnest desire that Mr. Wesley 
would visit America. 



Reception in Philadelphia Pilmoor Asbury's first Sermon in America 
Visit to Staten Island New York Boardman Asbury's Opinion of 
the Americans Visit to the Country Pilmoor Asbury in Philadel- 
phia Appointed Superintendent Criticism of a Book An officious 
Priest Quarterly Meetings Baltimore New York Church Wor- 
shipers Philadelphia Rankin St. Paul's Church Rankin's Op- 
position to Revivals First Conference Baltimore Quarterly Con- 
ference Otterbine Second Conference Desire to be sent to Balti- 
more Disappointed Norfolk Revival in Virginia Asbury's Opin- 
ion of the English Preachers who left the Country Rumors of War 
Warm Sulphur Springs Wesley and Politics Conference at Deer 
Creek Declaration of Independence Difficulties about the Sacra- 
ments Retires to Judge White's in Delaware Trials Action of 
.Southern Preachers Asbury's Efforts at Union Plan proposed 
Rejected Delegates sent to Southern Conference Successful Result. 

ASBURY opened his mission in Philadelphia. We 
have already alluded to the cordial greeting given to 
him and his colleague by the members of the society 
in that city. His elevation of spirits, resulting from 
such an expression of Christian sympathy in his be- 
half, was remarkable, and he says in referring to it, 
" My mind is drawn heavenward ; the Lord hath 
helped me by his power, and my soul is in a para- 
dise." His first meeting with the society, as we have 
already seen, was on the first evening after his arrival, 
when he listened, in the old St. George's Church, to a 
sermon from Joseph Pilmoor, who was then stationed 
in that city, and interchanged with Boardman. of 


Xew York. The next meeting he attended was a 
watch-night meeting, which began at eight o'clock 
and lasted till midnight. Pilmoor again preached, 
and the services were continued by a religious con- 
ference, during which a large number related their 
Christian experience. Toward the close of the meet- 
ing, Asbury says, " a plain man from the country 
spoke, and his words went with great power to the 
souls of the people, so that we may say, ' Who hath 
despised the day of small things ?' ISTot the Lord our 
God ; then why should self-important man ?" We find 
him the next day engaged in personal labors with in- 
dividuals who were awakened, and anxiously inquir- 
ing what they should do to be saved. His conversa- 
tion with them and his prayers in their behalf were 
attended with a blessing not only to them but to him- 
self, and he felt more than ever convinced that in obey- 
ing the call which summoned him from his home and 
kindred to brave the dangers of the ocean, and bear 
the messages of the Gospel to the inhabitants of 
this lS"ew "World, he was in the line and order of 

The first sermon which he preached, though he 
makes no mention of it in his Journal, was one in 
which he enjoyed much freedom. He remarked that 
in speaking to the people he " felt his mind opened 
and his tongue unloosed." His last sermon during 
his stay in Philadelphia was preached on the 6th of 


November, from the text, " He that spared not his 
own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he 
not with him also freely give us all things?" The ser- 
mon was delivered in the evening, and in describing 
the occasion he says, " It was a night of power to my 
own soul and to many others." His first ministra- 
tions impressed the Church in that city that he was a 
minister of no ordinary stamp, evincing by the man- 
ner in which he treated his subjects, and the depth 
and fervor of his feeling, that he was a workman emi- 
nently qualified by training and experience to divide 
the word of truth, and give to saint and sinner their 
portion in due season. 

After remaining ten days in Philadelphia he went 
to Burlington, where he preached in the court-house 
to a large and attentive congregation. From thence 
he directed his course to New York. Having met in 
Philadelphia a gentleman by the name of Yan Pelt, 
who resided on Staten Island, and being accom- 
panied by him on his journey, he was induced 
to go to Staten Island, and spend a short time 
in that place before going to New York. After 
three days' journey they reached the hospitable 
mansion of Mr. Yan Pelt, where Asbury ever after 
found a home. As he had made no engagement to 
be in New York at any particular time he remained 
a few days on the Island, and preached in the even- 
ing at the house of his friend. The kind recep- 


tion which lie met from the people, and the religious 
enjoyment, which he experienced, still farther en- 
couraged him in the belief that his mission was in ac- 
cordance with the ordination of God. On the Sab- 
bath he discoursed in the morning to a large congre- 
gation in the house of his friend, and in the afternoon 
to a much larger one. He preached also in the 
evening to a large congregation assembled at the 
house of Justice "Wright. On Monday he left for 
Xew York, where he met Richard Boardman, who 
was stationed in the city. In him he found a genial 
spirit, and was so favorably impressed with the man 
that he makes the following record in his Journal : 


" My friend Boardman is a kind, loving, worthy 
man, truly amiable and entertaining, and of a child- 
like temper." Boardman, as we have already seen, 
was Pilmoor's colleague, and between them they had 
for their field of labor Xew York and Philadelphia, 
as well as other points accessible in the country. 
Boardman came to America in 1769, and landing 

' O 

at Philadelphia, where he left his colleague Pilmoor, 
he proceeded to New York. On his way he stopped 
at a large town where a company of soldiers were 
stationed, and through whose influence he procured 
the use of the Presbyterian Church, where he 
preached to them and a large number of the citizens. 
"When he arrived at New York he was cordially re- 
ceived. Referring to the congregations that attended 


his ministry, lie said, "so great was the crowd that 
attended meeting only a third part were able to get 
into the house." He thought the Americans excelled 
all the people he ever saw in their desire to hear the 

The year that Asbury arrived the society in New 
York was blessed with a revival, and such was its ex- 
tent that Boardman, in his letter to Wesley, describes 
it as a " great awakening." His zeal in the cause of 
religion, connected with great urbanity of manners, 
endeared him to the people, and it was not to be 
wondered that Asbury found in him a loving com- 
panion. He only remained in this country a few 
years. After his return he labored as an itinerant in 
England and Ireland during a period of eight years. 
He died in great peace at Cork, having preached the 
night before his death. Mr. Wesley says of him : 
"He was a pious, good-natured, sensible man, greatly 
beloved by all who knew him." As though the old 
adage proved true, " like priest like people," so As- 
bury found among the New York Methodists a 
kindred spirit to that of their beloved pastor. He 
describes them as " loving and serious," and re- 
marked that " there appeared also among them a 
love of discipline." 

His introduction into New York being thus auspi- 
cious, he opened his mission with encouraging pros- 
pects. His first sermon was preached in the old 


John-street Church, on Tuesday, the 13th of Kovem- 
ber, to a large and attentive congregation. His text 
was well selected, being 1 Corinthians ii, 2 : " I de- 
termined not to know anything among you save 
Jesus Christ and him crucified." The text is illus- 
trative of his settled purpose of mind in entering 
upon his work in America, and his whole subsequent 
life gave evidence of the manner in which he ad- 
hered to that purpose. If ever, since the days of the 
apostles, there were any ministers who gave themselves 
up with exclusive devotion to their work, Asbury 
was most certainly of that number. His next sermon 
was on the following day ; during its delivery he 
felt his heart greatly enlarged, and he was convinced 
that the membership enjoyed the "life and power 
of religion." 

"When the Sabbath came he preached again to a 
large concourse of people, and was much refreshed in 
spirit at witnessing their zeal and devotion, and felt 
more strongly attached to them than ever, expressing 
his belief that the Americans were more ready to re- 
ceive the word than the English. He was particu- 
larly impressed with the sight of so many sable sons 
and daughters of Africa, who were in the congrega- 
tion, and who united with the people in cheerful 
melody to sing the Redeemer's praise. 

Unwilling to confine his labors to the city, he re- 
solved on visiting what Boardman in his letter to 


"Wesley called the " back settlements," and accord- 
ingly he went to Westchester. At this place his 
friends waited on the mayor for the use of the court- 
house to preach in, there being no church, and it was 
readily granted. On Sabbath morning a congrega- 
tion assembled, and he discoursed from the text, 
" Now he commandeth all men everywhere to re- 
pent." In the afternoon his congregation increased ; 
many of the chief men of the town were present, 
among whom was the mayor. At both these meet- 
ings he realized the Divine presence and power. In 
the evening he preached at West Farms, and the 
next day again at Westchester, where he was a guest 
of the mayor. The next Sabbath he preached in 
New York, and returned to the country, preaching at 
New Rochelle, Rye, East Chester, and Mamaroneck. 
Returning to New York he visited Staten Island, and 
then again we find him on his former round, preach- 
ing through the week, and on Sabbaths, as he had 
opportunity and could obtain places and congrega- 

We have been thus particular in our description, 
because these were the first regular labors of this 
true-hearted missionary in this country. 

To him must be awarded the honor of initiating 
the first regular circuit work in America. He evi- 
dently saw a disposition on the part of the preachers 
to confine their labors to the cities, and had resolved 


that lie would be an itinerant in every sense of the 
term. He had thoroughly imbibed the doctrine of 


AVesloy. to "go where the people wanted him the 
most," and this demand for his services was not to 
be determined by any particular desire on his part 
to preach to such as prized his ministrations, nor yet 
by the desire of the people to hear him, but where 
there was the greatest need of Gospel preaching, and 
where the people were in greatest danger of perish- 
ing without it. Such are truly evangelical calls; and 
wherever the minister heeds them, if he have to pass 
through persecution like Peter, or even through 
death like Stephen, he will prove himself a true suc- 
cessor of the apostles of our Lord. 

He seemed to consider it improper for him to re- 
main in New York while Boardman was there, and 
hence he says in his Journal : " I remain in York, 
though unsatisfied with our being both in town to- 
gether. I have not yet the thing which I seek, a 
circulation of the preachers to avoid partiality and 
popularity. However, I am fixed to the Methodist 
plan, and do what I do faithfully as unto God. I 
expect trouble is at hand. This I expected when I 
left England, and I am willing to suffer, yea, to die, 
rather than betray so good a cause by any means. It 
will be a hard matter to stand against all opposition 

'As an iron pillar strong, 

And steadfast as a wall of brass;' 


but through Christ strengthening me I can do all 
things. My brethren seem unwilling to leave the 
cities, but I will show them the way. I have noth- 
ing to seek but the glory of God, nothing to fear but 
his displeasure. I have come to this country with 
an upright intention, and through the grace of God 
I will make it appear. I am determined that no 
man shall bias me with soft words and fair speeches ; 
nor will I ever fear the face of man, or know any 
man after the flesh, if I beg my bread from door to 
door ; but, whomsoever I please or displease, I will 
be faithful to God, to the people, and to my own 

The population of New York was at that time 
about twenty -five thousand, and was embraced with- 
in the limits of that part of the present city bounded 
by Beekman-street on the north, and the Battery on 
the south. There were then seventeen churches on 
the island, of which the Reformed Dutch and the 
Episcopal had three each, the Lutherans two, the 
German Reformed one. the Presbyterians two, and 
the Seceders, Baptists, Moravians, Jews, French 
Protestants, and Methodists one each. In describing 
some of the preachers in JSTew York, Boardman, in 
his letter to Wesley, says : " WQ have in this city 
some of the best preachers, both in the English and 
Dutch Churches, that are in America." 

"While on his last round before leaving for Phila- 


delpliia, Asbury was taken sick at City Island, and, 
notwithstanding the kind friends with whom he 


stopped insisted on his remaining until his health 
was recruited, he left for his appointments, and so 
determined was he in filling them that, though he 
was quite ill, and part of the time in great pain, he 
preached at all of them before he returned to New 
York. When he arrived he found Pilmoor, who 
had exchanged with Boardman; but the former being 
ill, he occupied the pulpit in the morning. Pilmoor 
was quite popular in the city, and attracted large 
crowds whenever he came. On one occasion he 
went out, by request, to the race-course. It was 
Sabbath evening, and the judge's stand was convert- 
ed into a pulpit. From this h'e preached to between 
four and five thousand people, who listened with 
great attention. 

After visiting Staten Island, and preaching at his 
friend Yan Pelt's, Justice "Wright's, and at the ferry, 
Asbury returned to New York, and from thence 
started for Philadelphia, preaching on the way at 
Amboy, Burlington, and New Mills. 

The preachers having all met in Philadelphia for 
the purpose of arranging the work for the year 1772, 
it was agreed among them that Boardman should go 
to Boston, Pilmoor to Virginia, Wright to New York, 
and Asbury to Philadelphia. This was his first ap- 
pointment proper in America, and he expressed him- 


self much pleased with it. The impression which he 
made on his first arrival was so favorable that the 
people were equally well pleased with the appoint- 
ment, and large congregations attended his ministry. 
Faithful to his purpose not to spend all his time in 
the city, he went out into the country and preached 
at Bohemia, Chester, and other places, returning to 
Philadelphia and preaching on Sabbaths and meet- 
ing the society. He also visited Burlington, "Wil- 
mington, Greenwich, Trenton, Gloucester, and other 

After remaining four months on his Philadelphia 
circuit he was summoned to ~New York. On his ar- 
rival he found that Wright had preached his farewell 
sermon, and informed the people that he did not ex- 
pect to see them any more. Asbury thought they 
had spoiled him by gifts, and he discovered that 
those very persons who had exerted such a perni- 
cious influence upon him, were among the first to 
condemn him. At this his spirit was stirred, and he 
felt grieved somewhat both at preacher and people. 
Being opposed by some of the members for meeting 
the society at the same time the classes were held, 
he complained of a party spirit which he thought 
prevailed. At a meeting held for the purpose of 
arranging the temporal affairs of the society, and 
also for considering whatever related to its spiritual 
interests, sixteen questions were discussed. There 


was not that harmony among the membership that 
Asbury desired, and some considerable disaffection 
existed in regard to what lie considered the re- 
quirements of the discipline, but he resolved that 
with calm and determined energy he would carry 
out the rules and regulations of the Church. In 


the mean time he extended his labors to Staten Island, 
Kingsbridge, and elsewhere. Alluding to the " sharp 
debates" held in the leaders' meeting in Xew York, 
he says a member had charged him with ill usage 
in saying he opposed his meeting the society, and 
intimated that he had preached the people away, 
and that he would destroy the work. In the midst 
of all these trials he, however, swerved not from 
what he conscientiously believed to be the path of 
duty, and preserved a conscience void of offense 
toward God and man. 

On the 10th of October, 1772, he received a letter 
from Wesley, appointing him Superintendent of the 
societies in America. Among other instructions con- 
tained in this communication was one strictly enjoin- 
ing that none of his books should be reprinted with- 
out his consent. It seems that Robert "Williams had 
engaged in the republication of some of Wesley's 
works. This he did from the purest motives, but 
from some cause or other Wesley prohibited him 
from any further publication. Williams came over 
as a local preacher, and in all probability commenced 


preaching in New York before the arrival of Board- 
man. He was afterward admitted into the traveling 


connection, and was the first to visit some sections in 
Maryland and Virginia, extending his labors to North 
Carolina. He was a man of faith and prayer, and 
his labors were abundantly blessed. 

Receiving intelligence that he was expected to 
spend the winter in Maryland, Asbury proceeded to 
Philadelphia, stopping on his way at Princeton, a 
place he had "long wished to see for the sake of the 
pious Mr. Davies, late president of the college there." 
After remaining a short time he left for Maryland, 
stopping at a place where a work on the non-eternity 
of future punishment fell into his hands. This he 
read and criticised after the following manner : " By 
his arguments," alluding to the author of the work, 
" we may as well prove the non-eternity of heavenly 
joys, for if, as he calls it, a ^r\ ai&viog of the right- 
eous arises from a principle of spiritual life derived 
from Christ, then the KOAaaig al&viog of the wicked 
arises from a principle of spiritual death in them, and 
the one will come to an end as soon as the other." 

While engaged in preaching in Kent county, 
Maryland, an officious preacher of the Episcopal 
Church came to one of his appointments, demand- 
ing by what authority he preached. Asbury calmly 
met the insolent demand by telling him who he was. 
To this the priest of the Church pompously replied : 


"I have the sole authority over this people and 
the care of their souls, and you cannot and shall 
not preach ; and if you do I will proceed against you 
according to law." 

Asbury gave him to understand that he had no 
respect whatever for his assumed authority ; that he 
came there to preach, and preach he would. 

" But," said the divine, " you will create a schism, 
and draw the people from their work." 

" Do not fairs and horse-races hinder the people ?" 
asked Asbury. 

At this the clergyman wished to know what was 
the object of his coming. 

To- which he replied : "To turn sinners to God." 

" Cannot I do this as well as you ?" said the parson. 

Asbury then said : " 1 have authority from God." 

At this the parson laughed and said: "You are a 
fine fellow, indeed ;" but it was not long before he 
changed his tone and became enraged. 

K"ot in the least terrified at the threats of the 
Episcopal parson, he preached and had him for a 

'No conferences having as yet been held, all the busi- 
ness pertaining to the spiritual and temporal econ- 
omy of the Church was transacted at quarterly meet- 
ings. One of these meetings was held during his 
visit to Maryland. After preaching a discourse on 
the duties of the ministry, the Quarterly Conference 


proceeded to business. Among the matters discussed 
were questions relating to week-day preaching, the 
administration of the Sacrament, and some other 
items of minor importance. The preachers were 
stationed, and each one started to his field of labor 
for the year. By this arrangement Asbury was 
stationed in Baltimore ; but he did not confine his 
labors exclusively to that place, as we find him trav- 
ersing the country, and preaching at all points where 
Providence opened his way. His course in this re- 
spect, so persistently followed, had its effect upon his 
brethren in the ministry, and the result was that the 
work of the Lord spread and prevailed in all parts of 
the itinerant field. On the 3d of January, 1773, he 
entered fully upon his work in Baltimore, preaching 
to a large congregation at the house of Captain Pat- 
ten, at the Point, in the morning, and in the evening 
in the city. His religious experience at this time 
may be described in his own words : u Holiness is 
the element of my soul. My earnest prayer is, that 
nothing contrary to holiness may live in me." 

He had been offered the use of the court-house in 
the town, but it being judged unfit as a place for 
religious meeting it was declined, and he preached 
in a private house, in which he formed a class con- 
sisting of male members. The next day he organized 
a female class. He continued preaching at the Point 
and in town during the Sabbaths, and through the 



week extended his labors into the various parts of the 

surrounding country. 


In March, 1773, he attended a quarterly meeting 
conference on the Susquehanna, which he opened by 
a discourse. It was a time of peace and harmony 
among the preachers, and at its close they went out 
to their respective fields greatly encouraged to work for 
God. Having received a letter requesting him to 
visit Xew York, as his presence was required, he 
repaired thither at the close of the quarterly meeting. 
While in New York, in accordance with instructions 
from Wesley, enjoined on all preachers in connection 
with him, he attended the Episcopal Church for the 
purpose of receiving the sacrament. He had, how- 
ever, but a poor opinion of the spirituality of the 
Church worshipers, describing them as the most gay 
and undevout he had ever seen. 

On his return to Philadelphia Asbury for the first 
time met Rankin. He came over in company with 
Messrs. Shad ford and Yearbry and Captain Webb, 
through whose solicitation mainly Mr. Wesley was 
induced to reinforce the itinerant corps in America. 
Rankin was considered by Wesley as possessing pe- 
culiar gifts for governing the Church, and as he was 
Asbury's senior by several years, he constituted him 
General Superintendent of the societies in America. 
His arrival was a source of considerable comfort to 
Asbury, and he was very favorably impressed with 


the man. After hearing him preach a discourse from 
the text, "I have set before thee an open door, and no 
man can shut it," he thought perhaps he would not 
be much admired as a preacher, but as a disciplinarian 
he believed he would be qualified for the place as- 
signed him. 

The next day they started for New York, where 
they arrived on the 12th, and were received by a 
large company of Methodists at the dock where they 
landed. Asbury preached on Sabbath morning, and 
in the afternoon, in company with Rankin, Webb, 
and Wright, went to St. Paul's Church and received 
the sacrament. In the evening Rankin preached his 
first sermon in New York. Alluding to his sermon 


Asbury says : " He dispensed the word of truth 
with power ; it reached the hearts of many, and they 
appeared to be much quickened." 

Being anxious to know how the societies were pros- 
pering in the country, Asbury went to New Rochelle 
and preached. On his return he found, to his great 
satisfaction, that Rankin had been successful in set- 
tling some of the difficulties which existed in the 
society. At this time there was a considerable revi- 
val in the society at New York, and some of the 
exercises witnessed by Rankin were not at all pleas- 
ing to him. 

Rankin had not long been in possession of the 
government of the Church until it was found that 


there was an incompatibility existing between his 
views and opinions and those of the Methodists of 
this country. Unlike Asbury, who, on identifying 
himself with America, left all his prejudices and pre- 
possessions behind, he came, however sincere his 
purpose and aim to promote the cause of Methodism, 
with all his English ideas of loyalty and government. 
He sought to effect by authority what Asbury so 
happily secured by conciliation and moral suasion. 
What was remarkable in a Methodist preacher, it 
appears that Rankin manifested an opposition to the 
spirit of revivals, asserting that they tended to dis- 
grace religion bv the destruction of order. In this 

o O / 

he was promptly met by Asbury, who, although he 
conceded that some enthusiasm and extravagance 
might occasionally exist in time of revival, yet deemed 
it injudicious to animadvert with severity on those 
exhibitions of passionate excitement which more or 
less accompany deep and lasting revivals of religion. 
The friends of order, he thought, might well allow a 
poor and guilty mortal to tremble before his God, 
under deep conviction for sin, and the people of God 
to sing and shout when the Holy One of Israel 
appears in power and grace among them. To be 
hasty in plucking the tares might endanger the wheat. 
We should not venture to reach forth our hand to 
touch the ark lest we be smitten for sacrilege. In 
consequence of this an unpleasant state of feeling 


sprang up between Asbury and Rankin, and the lat- 
ter was unwise enough to communicate it to Wesley, 
who became somewhat prejudiced against Asbury on 
that account. These differences, however, did not 
separate these good men in heart, and they finally 
gave way after more mature reflection. 

On the 14th of July, 1773, the first Conference 
proper met in Philadelphia. At this Conference it 
was determined to enforce the rules and regulations 


of the Wesleyan Conference throughout the connec- 
tion in America. As we have already seen, the 
sacraments were not to be administered by the 
preachers, and the people were earnestly advised to 
receive baptism and the Lord's supper from the hands 
of the Episcopal clergy. The number of preachers 
stationed at this Conference was ten, and as it was 
the first regular Conference held, we think it of suffi- 
cient interest to give their names and appointments: 
"New York and Philadelphia, Thomas Rankin. and 
George Shadford ; New Jersey, John King and Wil- 
liam Watters ; Baltimore, Francis Asbury, Robert 
Strawbridge, Abraham Whitworth, and Joseph Year- 
bry; Norfolk, Richard Wright; Petersburg, Robert 
Williams, The numbers reported in society were 
one thousand one hundred and sixteen. 

Asbury's labors in Baltimore were much blessed, 
and as he continued the sphere of his operations he 
began to realize his heart's desire in seeing the people 


turned to the Lord. He was greatly cheered in re- 
ceiving intelligence of a wonderful revival in Virginia. 
About this time he drew up a subscription, and car- 
ried it from place to place, with a view of raising 
funds for building a church in Baltimore. He re- 
ceived considerable assistance from Mr. Moore, who 
zealously co-operated with him in the work, and was 
enabled to report the sum raised by subscription to 
be more than a hundred pounds. Two lots had been 
selected as eligible sites for the building, and Asbury 
was greatly encouraged. This enterprise proved in 
the end successful, and Light-street Church was in 
process of time dedicated to the service of God. 

In July a quarterly conference was held at 
Owings's, in Maryland. In referring to this meet- 
ing Asbury says: "All the preachers appeared 
to have their hearts fixed on promoting the work 
of God the ensuing quarter, and we consulted 
together with much freedom and love. On the 
first day I inquired into the moral character of the 
local preachers, appointed them their work, and 
gave them written licenses to officiate. The preach- 
ers who spoke at this meeting manifested great earn- 
estness and zeal for the salvation of souls, and many 
of the people were much affected ; all was harmony 
and love. For the next quarter we had our stations 
as follows : P. Eberd, E. Drumgoole, and Hi chard 
O wings in Frederic Circuit; Brother Yearbry and 


Brother Kawlings in Kent Circuit; Henry "Walters 
and Brother Wright in Baltimore Circuit; and myself 
in Baltimore town." 

About this time he received intelligence of a power- 
ful revival in Virginia, in which between live and six 
hundred souls were converted, the result of which was 
the formation of five or six new circuits. Having 


written to Otterbein, a distinguished German minister, 
in relation to his settlement in Baltimore, he united in 
a true catholic spirit with some friends of the German 
Reformed Church in drawing up a plan for his settle- 
ment. A short time after he met with Otterbein and 
another minister of the same Church, and was favor- 
ably impressed with their true Christian spirit. 

At the second Conference, which was held in Phila- 
delphia on the 25th of May, 1771, quite a number 
were added to the itinerant ranks, and the increase 
in the membership was upward of nine hundred, 
nearly double what it was the previous year. In al- 
luding to this Conference, Asbury says : " It was at- 
tended with great power, and all things were con- 
sidered in peace and harmony. We agreed to send 
Mr. W. to England, and all acquiesced in the stations 
of the preachers. My lot was to go to York." 
When he readied his appointment he was again 
greeted by his friends, but he lamented that there 
were some remaining roots of prejudice in the hearts 
of a few. Subsequently he felt much aggrieved at 


the acrimony of a certain individual, who did all he 
could to injure him, but he patiently submitted his 
cause to God. Notwithstanding the efforts of what 
he calls dissatisfied, restless spirits, he was enabled to 
keep Tip a close communion with God, and realized 
that the fire of Divine love glowed in his heart, that 
his soul was peace, and his affections pure and with- 
drawn from earthly objects. 

During this year he suffered much from sickness, 
and for many days was closely confined ; but notwith- 
standing his illness, he preached three hundred times, 
and rode two thousand miles on horseback. At the 
close of his year in Xew York, in consequence of his 
feeble health, he began to feel some solicitude about 
his appointment the ensuing year. Rankin had the 
power of appointing the preachers, and he expressed 
a desire that he might be saved from going into what 
he called the " low country." When he went to 
Philadelphia, in December, he fell in company with 
Ttankin, and opened his mind fully to him on the 
subject; but he found that he disagreed with him in 
judgment entirely, and he remarked that it appeared 
to him that to make any attempt to be stationed in 
Baltimore would be all in vain. "It is somewhat 
grievous," says Asbury, " that he should prevent my 
going to Baltimore, after being acquainted with my 
engagements, and the importunities of my friends 
there." Several of the preachers, among whom were 


Webb and Drmngoole, were of the same opinion 
with the people in regard to this matter. While As- 
bury was in Philadelphia he was taken quite ill, and 
for some time was confined to his room under medi- 
cal treatment. When he recovered he went to Balti- 
more, and was greatly refreshed in spirit in meeting 
his old friends. Large congregations in town and at 
the Point, as well as in the country where he 
preached, attended his ministry. 

The next Conference was held in Philadelphia in 
May, 1775. The Church had increased in numbers 
astonishingly during the past year, and the member- 
ship rose to upward of three thousand. Great peace 
and harmony prevailed. The subject of war was then 
a prevailing one, and such was the agitated state of the 
public mind, Conference deemed it proper to appoint 
a general fast for the prosperity of the work and for the 
peace of America. Nineteen preachers were stationed. 
Asbury, as the Minutes show, was stationed, contrary 
to his wishes, at Norfolk, but he uttered no word of 
complaint, going with all cheerfulness to his field of 
labor. After a somewhat disagreeable voyage he 
arrived at Norfolk, where he found no place for 
preaching but an old dilapidated house, which had 
been formerly used as a theater. There were but 
thirty members in society, and they were in a some- 
what disorganized state, having no class-meetings. 
After laboring a few days alternately in Norfolk and 


Portsmouth, he persuaded the brethren to issue a 
subscription paper for building a house of worship, 
which, however, went tardily on for the present. As 
usual, Mr. Asbury omitted no opportunity of doing 
good to the souls of the people ; and for this purpose 
lie made frequent excursions into the country, where 
he generally found a people willing to hear the word 
of reconciliation. Having been invited to visit 


Brunswick Circuit, where the Lord was pouring out 
his Spirit upon the labors of Mr. Shadford, he arrived 
there, and says : " God is at work in this part of the 
country, and my soul catches the holy fire." On 
meeting with Mr. Shadford, he says : " My spirit is 
much united to him, and our meeting was like that 

' O 

of David and Jonathan." A remarkable revival of 
the work of God was then prevailing in that part of 
the country, chiefly through the instrumentality of Mr. 
Shadford. Trembling and shaking would seize upon 
sinners under the word, and in some instances they were 
so affected as to fall helpless upon the floor or upon 
the ground. These were strange appearances in this 
country, and some, of course, looked on with aston- 
ishment at the manifest displays of the power and 
grace of God. The consequence of this great and 
extensive revival was an addition to the societies of 
upward of eighteen hundred members. Asbury 
entered into this revival with great spirit, and gives 
an extended account of it in his Journal. 


Mr. Robert "Williams, who was among the first 
Methodist preachers that visited Virginia, had mar- 
ried, and located at a place between Norfolk and 
Suffolk, where he ended his days in peace on the 
26th of September, 1775. His funeral sermon w r as 
preached by Mr. Asbury, who says of him that he 
had been " a very useful man, and the Lord gave him 
many seals to his ministry. Perhaps no man in 
America has been an instrument of awakening so 
many souls as God has awakened by him." 

Rankin finding it impossible for him to reconcile 
the war spirit which pervaded the country with his 
views of loyalty, and especially the instructions of 
Wesley on the subject, he resolved to return to En- 
gland, and in a letter to Asbury informed him of that 
determination. In his reply, indicative of his own 
views and feelings on the subject, Asbury speaks as 
follows : u I can by no means leave such a field for 
gathering souls to Christ as we have in America. It 
would be an everlasting dishonor to the Methodists 
that we should all leave three thousand souls who de- 
sire to commit themselves to our care ; neither is it 
the part of a good shepherd to leave his flock in 
time of danger; therefore I am determined by the 
grace of God not to leave them, let the consequence 
be what it may." 

While absent on one of his itinerant excursions he 
heard of a dreadful slaughter at Norfolk and Great 


Bridge, which, added to the war demonstrations 

O ' / 

which had already been made in the country, gave 
]>ivtiy sin niir evidence that troublous times were 
coming, such as would try men's souls. "When he 
returned to Baltimore, which he did in the spring, 
so great was the consternation arising from the exis- 
tence of the war that the congregations were small. 

o o 

The presence of a man-of-war in the river excited the 
greatest commotion. Alluding to this state of things, 
he makes the following appropriate and beautiful 
reflections : " I know the Lord governeth the world, 
therefore these things shall not trouble me. I will 
endeavor to be ready for life or death, so that if death 
should come my soul may joyfully quit this land of 
sorrow and go to rest in the embraces of the blessed 
Jesus. O delightful felicity ! There is no din of 
war ; no unfriendly persecutors of piety ; no enchant- 
ing world with concealed destruction ; no malevolent 
spirit to disturb our peace : but all is purity, peace, 
and joy. Adapting my discourse to the occasion, I 
preached this evening from Isaiah i, 19, 20 : ' If ye 
be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the 
land : but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured 
with the sword : for the mouth of the Lord hath 
spoken it.' : 

After remaining in Baltimore a short time he went 
to Philadelphia, and visited Trenton and other places. 
At Philadelphia also the people were alarmed by the 


rumors of war, tidings having arrived of a battle off 
Christiana between thirteen row-galleys and the Roe- 
buck man-of-war. Being sick he was unable to at- 
tend the Conference, which was held in May, 1TT6, 
in Baltimore, but he received notice from Rankin of 
his appointment to that city. When his health ad- 
mitted he went to his charge and entered upon his 
labors, but he was so much debilitated that he deemed 
it advisable to visit the Warm Sulphur Springs in Vir- 
ginia. That his time might be properly occupied 
while there, he adopted the following plan : " To read 
one hundred pages a day, to pray in public five times 
a day, to preach in the open air every other day, and 
to lecture in prayeivmeeting every other evening." 
Such recreation as this, at a watering-place, by a min- 
ister of the present day, would be considered among 
the strangest of strange things. While at the Springs 
he met a man who had come eighteen miles for the 
purpose of seeing and hearing a Methodist preacher. 
His quarters were not the most comfortable, as will be 
seen by the following description : " The size of the 
house in which we live is twenty feet by sixteen, and 
there are seven beds and sixteen persons, besides 
some noisy children." After remaining there about 
five weeks he left, greatly grieved and disgusted 
at the practices of the many thoughtless visitors. 
On the day of his leaving he made the following 
entry in his Journal : " I this day turn my back 


on the Springs as the best and worst place I ever was 
in good for health, but most injurious for religion." 

At this time lie received a letter from "Wesley, and 
regretted much that this great man had interfered 
in American politics. He, however, says that the 
course of that distinguished man manifested his 
conscientious attachment to the government under 
which he lived. He thought if Wesley had been 
in America he would have been a zealous advocate 
of the American cause. 

Alarms of war reached him, and accounts of blood- 
shed and slaughter in different parts of the country. 
This was a grief to his soul, and he earnestly prayed 
that the Lord might disperse those who delighted in 
war and thirsted for human blood. " It is well," 
said he, " that this is not the home of the righteous. 
They are blessed with a pacific spirit, and are bound 

for a kingdom of peace, where 

" No horrid alarum of war 

Shall break our eternal repose ; 
No sound of the trumpet is there 

Where the spirit of Jesus overflows. 
Appeased by the charms of Thy grace, 

We all shall in amity join, 
And kindly each other embrace, 
And love with a passion like thine." 

The next Conference was held at Deer Creek, Har- 
ford county, Maryland, in May, 1777, and the num- 


ber of the preachers had increased to twenty-seven, 
twenty of whom were present. Since the last Con- 
ference, which was held in Baltimore, the patriots 
of the Revolution had assembled in Philadelphia, 
and declared the colonies free and independent 
states, thereby throwing off all allegiance to the 
British crown. The lines were now distinctly drawn, 
and no loyalist could possibly hope to find any sym- 
pathy among the Americans. Some of the English 
preachers were ill at ease, and being unwilling to 
enter into the revolutionary spirit, or embrace the 
American cause, began to make arrangements for 
returning to England. 

But there were other difficulties existing in rela- 
tion to the Church. The people began to ask for the 
ordinances, and as they could see no reason why 
those who ministered to them the word of life 
should not also administer the sacraments of baptism 
and the Lord's supper, they became more and more 
earnest in their demands. The idea that their min- 
isters, as well as themselves, should have to go to the 
Episcopal clergy and receive the sacrament at their 
hands, was something they could not, with their 
knowledge of the authority drawn from the "reg- 
ular succession," understand. Nor were the people 
alone in these views and feelings. The preach- 
ers at the south pressed the matter upon the 
attention of the Conference, and there were strong 


indications of a separation unless the demand was 

This feeling was held in abeyance for several 
years, and did not imbody itself in any action until 
1779. Asbury, like Wesley, was a true son of the 
Church, and though he had become thoroughly 
American in his views and feelings, and, as his 
subsequent history shows, a republican of the Wash- 
ington stamp, still his love for Wesley, and his de- 
sire to remain in connection with him, was such 
that he labored hard to allay the feelings of his 

While Asbury was engaged in his work in Balti- 
more and vicinity, in 1777, he was required to take 
the oath of allegiance to the state of Maryland. Its 
form, however, was such that he could not conscien- 
tiously take it, and the result was that he was obliged 
to leave the state and go to Delaware, where the 
state oath was not required of clergymen. He 
sought an asylum at the hospitable mansion of 
Judge White, in Kent county, Delaware. He 
soon found, however, that his retreat was no 
place of safety. Scarcely had he been a month at 
the Judge's until he was obliged to leave, and he 
went out not knowing whither. He had not trav- 
eled many miles until he came to a house, where he 
stopped and found the neighbors assembled for a fu- 
neral. There being no minister, he hesitated not to 


improve the occasion by an address full of Christian 
sympathy. He then pursued his weary way until 
late at night, when he found shelter. Here he in- 
tended to rest till Providence should direct his way ; 
but the next evening he heard of circumstances 
which induced him to think it prudent to move the 
next day. Deeply depressed was his spirit. He was 
three thousand miles from his native home and kin- 
dred. All his countrymen associated with him had 
left him to his fate. IJe was considered by most 
persons, who knew not his heart and his motives, 
as an enemy to the country, and he was, accord- 
ingly, liable any hour to be apprehended and 

Leaving his resting-place, he went into a wild and 
dismal swamp, where he lay concealed till night, 
when a friend kindly took him in and protected him. 
Under these circumstances of trial he was sustained 
by the consciousness that he was in the way of duty. 
He was seeking neither riches nor honor. He was 
laboring only for the spiritual good, for the salvation 
of his fellow-men. He trusted in Providence, being 
confident the God of the prophets and of the apostles 
would protect and relieve him. 

In his seclusion he heard that his friend and broth- 
er, Rev. Joseph Hartley, had been apprehended and 
imprisoned in the county of Queen Anne, and that 
the amiable Freeborn Garrettson had been assault- 



ed, abused, and nearly murdered by his perse- 
cutors. After about a month spent in seclusion, 
he ventured to return to his old home at Judge 
AYhite's, where lie remained till the troubles were 

It was with the utmost difficulty he could main- 
tain contentment and resignation in his restricted cir- 
cumstances. Pent up in the little state of Delaware, 
he felt straitened and repressed in his very soul. He 
says his mind was twisted and tortured ; he knew 
not whether to fight or run ; he was worried by temp- 
tations ; everything appeared under a cloud ; and 
often he was ready to choose death rather than such 
a life. Yet he had an agreeable home, he was in no 
immediate danger, and he had the whole state of 
Delaware for his prison-bounds. Yet he was unhap- 
py. ISTor could it be otherwise, since God had made 
him for an itinerant, and called him to travel, and 
designed the whole country, from the Atlantic to the 
Mississippi, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. 
Lawrence, for his circuit. Had you placed him in a 
palace in Delaware, and given him an Eden for his 
rambles, and a magnificent cathedral for his preach- 
ing-place, and ten thousand souls for his audience, 
he still would have been uneasy. He would have 
pined for the freedom of the whole continent. He 
would have longed to climb the mountains, and swim 


the rivers, and face the bleak winds of the plains. 


His soul would have yearned to carry the Gospel to 
the frontier settler in his rude cabin, and to gather 
into the fold of his Master the lost and wandering 
sons of neglect and the daughters of destitution. The 

o >> 

offer of eligible settlements, of desirable alliances, of 
wealth, of ease, of ambitious promotion, would have 
been an insult to such a man. But give him enough 
of Gospel work to do, and .room enough to work, 
and then, and then only, you insure him content 
and happiness. 

He made his home at Judge White's about two 
years. The first year he went out but short distances 
from home, and preached but little. In April, 17T9, 
he held a Conference in his secluded place of exile. 
The preachers of the northern stations were all pres- 
ent, and great harmony prevailed. So unhappy had 
Mr. Asbury been under his cramped and straitened 
circumstances through the year, that he determined, 
at whatever risk, to venture out from his seclusion 
and perform, regular circuit work. Delaware was 
accordingly made a circuit, and Asbury appointed 
in charge. ISTo sooner had he left home for some 


distant part of the state than his spirits began to re- 
vive. He still, however, made his head-quarters at 
Judge White's, though he was most of the time ab- 
sent on some part of his circuit. After having spent 
two years in Delaware, he went to Baltimore to at- 
tend the Conference of 1780. He had become a cit- 


izen of Delaware, and returned to Maryland under 
the recommendation and protection of the governor 
of Delaware. By this means he avoided all further 
interruption, and was permitted to prosecute his work 
without hinderance. 

A judicious and conciliatory letter was adopted 
and sent to the south, in order, if possible, to prevent 
the threatened division. The letter, however, failed 
to produce any material effect. At the Conference 
held in Yirginia, a few weeks after the session of 
the oSTorthern Conference in Delaware, the southern 
preachers resolved to proceed in the work they 
deemed so necessary. They accordingly appointed 
a committee of the most respectable and elderly 
men among them to ordain the preachers. The 
committee first ordained themselves and then the 
other members of the Conference. They then 
went forth to administer the ordinances among 
their people. 

Mr. Asbury could by no means approve these 
measures. The proceeding was altogether a viola- 
tion of Methodist economy. His heart, and in- 
tellect at once became devoted to unremitting efforts 
to reclaim the dissenting brethren. He wrote them 
a long, an able, and an affectionate letter. He en- 
deavored to persuade the dissenters to be content to 
receive the ordinances from the hands of the Episco- 
pal clergy. They replied that the Methodist people 


would not receive the ordinances from the hands of 
ministers who were confessedly unconverted men, 
and many of them notoriously immoral in their con- 
duct. Asbury could but acknowledge the force of 
the objections ; yet still he could not permit a course 
so irregular as the southern preachers had taken. 
Fearing a separation inevitable, he yet determined 
to rescue as many as possible from the disastrous 
effects of the schism. 

A few days before the session of the Northern Con- 
ference for 1780, he received a letter from one of the 
Virginia preachers, encouraging him to hope for 
effecting a reconciliation by conciliatory and pru- 
dent measures. When the Conference assembled, the 
Virginia difficulties became matter of earnest debate. 
Some were for disowning, at once, all who had pre- 
sumed to administer the ordinances contrary to the 
order of the Church of England. Asbury proposed a 
union, on condition that the dissentients should or- 
dain no more ; that they should not presume to ad- 
minister the ordinances where there was a decent 
Episcopal minister ; and that they should consent to 
hold, with the north, a union Conference. The con- 
sent of the Conference could not be obtained to these 
terms of union, and there seemed no alternative but 
a final separation. In this extremity Asbury made 
one effort more. He moved that a committee be 
appointed to proceed to the Southern Conference, 


and to propose a suspension of all proceedings re- 
specting the ordinances for one year. He hoped 
that, through communication with Mr. Wesley, some 
plan might, in the mean time, be devised to prevent 
the disastrous results of a separation. To this plan 
the Conference assented. Asbury, William Watters, 
the oldest native preacher in the connection, and the 
amiable and accomplished Freeborn Garrettson, were 
appointed the committee. With much anxiety, and 
many fears for the result, the committee proceeded 
to Virginia. 

The Conference met. Asbury, on being desired 
by the members to open the case, read Wesley's 
''Thoughts against Separation" from the Church, ex- 
hibited his own private letters and instructions from 
Wesley, and explained to them the sentiments of tho 
Conferences held at Delaware and at Baltimore. 
He then preached a public discourse, in which he 
prudently omitted all allusion to existing difficul- 
ties, presenting only a plain exhibition of Gospel 
truth, accompanied by a warm and affectionate 

The morning session of Conference thus closed with 
the prospect of satisfactory adjustment of all difficul- 
ties. In the afternoon when they met it seemed 
there was little disposition to compromise. Asbury, 
with his colleagues, explicitly stated the conditions 
of union, mildly expostulating with the dissenters, 


and firmly insisting on the terms of compromise 
as the basis on which he and the Northern Confer- 
ence could aoree. He then left them to deliberate 


on the matter. After an hour the Conference in- 
formed him they could not accept the terms of 
union. On receiving intelligence of their decision 
Asbury was overwhelmed with such a cloud of sor- 
row as never before had settled on his soul. He 
wept, his associates wept, and the committee ap- 
pointed by the Conference to announce their decis- 
ion wept. All hope of preventing a final division 
amons; the Methodists vanished. Henceforth the 


people, who ought to be united in sentiment and 
in practice, harmoniously laboring to spread Scrip- 
tural holiness over the land, would be distracted by 
dissension, and driven by rivalry into measures of 

hostile aggression on each other. "With a sorrowful 


spirit and desponding heart, Asbury kneeled alone 
in his chamber before the Lord, and poured out 
his full soul in fervent prayer. He then called at the 
Conference room to bid them farewell. Great was 
the joy of his heart on learning at the door that the 
Conference had- yielded. The terms of compromise 


were adopted, the conditions of union accepted, and 
the Methodists were one again. After mutual con- 
gratulations, the eloquent William "Watters delivered 
a sermon on that appropriate text, " Come thou with 
us, and we will do thee good ; for the Lord hath 


spoken good concerning Israel." After preaching 
they held a love-feast. It was an affecting, a glori- 
ous time. Preachers and people talked, and wept, 
and sung, and shouted. The spirit of dissension 
was effectually laid. The Methodist community 
throughout America was yet one and inseparable. 



Visit to the Churches in Virginia Description of his Journey Con- 
ference of 1781 held in Baltimore Concurrence of the Southern 
Preachers in the Plan of Union Eesolve of the Preachers Eegula- 
tions in regard to Local Preachers Letter to Wesley Close of Con- 
ference Itinerant Superintendency Hard Fare Congregation, ou 
the Mountain Hanging Eock Castle South Branch of the Potomac 
Settlement of Germans Inspiring Scenes Fork Mountain Large 
Spring Caves Banks of Lost Eiver Drafted Soldiers Benighted 
on the Mountains Leesburg New York Conference Numbers 
received Interchange of Preachers Conference confirm Asbury's 
Appointment as Superintendent Coacljutancy of Eev. Mr. Jarratt 
State of the Church Eevivals hi Virginia and Maryland Adjourned 
to Baltimore Asbury's Travels Friendly Quakers at Salem Prep- 
arations for Conference Statistics A disaffected Preacher Wes- 
ley's Letter Crossing the Mountains Capture of Mr. Williams by 
the Indians Quarterly Meeting at Philadelphia New York 
Opinion of Methodists in these Places First Interview with Dr. Coke 
after his Arrival Eichard Whatcoat Surprise Question as to an 
Independent Organization discussed Determination to call a General 
Conference Freeborn Garrettson sent to the South Vasey Poyth- 
ress Interview with Mr. Weems Eeflections. 

THE gloomy clouds which hung bodingly over the 
horizon of the infant Church having been dispersed, 
Asbuiy started from the Conference with a light and 
joyous heart. His first visit was to Petersburg, and 
from thence he passed through the country, preach- 
ing from house to house everywhere, spreading 
abroad the savor of peace and union. There were 
then but few churches in the country, and he held 
forth the word of life in barns and cabins, and in the 
woods wherever a congregation could be collected. 


An extract or two from his Journal will show how 
hard was his service and how poor his fare : " We 
set out," he says, " for Crump's, over rocks, hills, 
creeks, and pathless woods. The young man with 
me was heartless before we had traveled a mile ; but 
when he saw how I could bush it, and sometimes 
force my way through a thicket and make the young 
saplings bend before me, and twist and turn out of 
the way or path, for there was no road, he took 
courage. With great difficulty we came into the 
settlement about two o'clock, after traveling eight or 
nine hours, the people looking almost as wild as the 
deer in the woods. I have only time to pray and 
write in my Journal ; always upon the wing ; as the 
rides are so long and the roads so bad, it takes me 
many hours, as in general I walk my horse. I 
crossed Rocky River about ten miles from Haw River. 
It was rocky sure enough. I can see little else but 
cabins in these parts built with poles. I crossed 
Deep River in a ferry boat, and the poor ferryman 
swore because I had not a shilling to give him." 
These were every-day occurrences, experienced in 
many sections of the country visited by this indefati- 
gable man. From Virginia and i^orth Carolina he 
traveled to Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Xew 

On the 24th of May, 1TS1, Conference convened in 
Baltimore. The preachers from the South were 


present, and all but one of them concurred in the 
action of the preceding Conference in suspending the 
administration of the ordinances. Great unanimity 
prevailed among all the ministers, and they were of 
one heart and one mind, possessing the unity 
of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The large ma- 
jority of the preachers set their names to a resolu- 
tion, that they would preach the doctrines of primi- 
tive Methodism contained in the standards of the 
Church, and that they would faithfully enforce the 
discipline. At this Conference regulations were 
adopted relating to local preachers, and certain mat- 
ters pertaining to the duty of traveling preachers in 
reference to the exercise of discipline. Among the 
preachers who located at this Conference, was John 
Dickins, who, just one year before, according to As- 
bury's Journal, drew up the subscription for a Kings- 
wood school in America, which afterward assumed 
the more imposing name of Cokesbury College. 
About this more hereafter. 

Soon after this Conference Asbury wrote to Wes- 
ley, and laid before him in detail the exact condition 
of aifairs in the Methodist Church. Having settled 
all matters pertaining to his superintendency, he set 
out to travel through the bounds of his work. He 
directed his course for the south branch of the Poto- 
mac, and traveled through a wild romantic region. 
After swimming his horse over the Great Capon 


river, fatigued and weary he found rest in the cabin 
of a friendly settler. His resting place, however, 
was on the top of a chest, and his clothes his only 
covering. This, however, was better fare than he 
often had. Frequently, when benighted in the wil- 
derness, he has slept on the ground, or on rocks, or on 
some boards in a deserted cabin, with nothing to eat. 
Being unable to cross the South Branch, he was 
obliged, as the explorers call it, to strike for the 
mountains. On the summit of one of these ranges he 
found a congregation as wild as the wilderness 
around them. Here he remained over Sabbath, and 
the mountain settlers were summoned far and near 
to listen to the word. When the hour for preaching 
came about two hundred persons were collected, and 
the voice of prayer and praise waked the echoes of the 
mountain. From hence he went to another appoint- 
ment. On his route he had a view of what is called 
Hanging Rock Castle. The walls of this wonderful 
structure rise up three hundred feet high, and seem 
as if built with square slate stones. At his last 
preaching place he had three hundred hearers. 
Crossing the South Branch he entered a settlement of 
Germans, and as he could not preach in that lan- 
guage he expressed a wish that the Methodist Church 
had German preachers, as he could see by the spirit 
of the people that a great work might be wrought 
among them. What Asbury sighed for has since 


been fully realized, and the Methodist Church em- 
braces in its fold thousands of German members and 
whole districts of German preachers. 

Anon we find Asbury in the valley. Above and 
around him rose up in their grandeur the Alle- 
ghanies, furnishing themes of thought for the loftiest 
contemplation, and inspiring a mind like his with 
profound emotions of reverence and love for the 
hand that had reared them, and covered their sum- 
mits with living verdure. In crossing the Fork 
Mountain he found another German settlement, and 
was much comforted in spirit in striving to preach to 
them. Near the preaching place was a large spring 
of great depth and clearness. Within two hundred 
yards from its source, the quantity of water dis- 
charged was sufficient in volume to turn a mill. 
About half a mile distant was another natural curi- 
osity. Two caves were to be seen about two hun- 
dred yards apart. The entrances to both are nar- 
row, but grow wider and deeper as they are entered, 
until the explorer finds himself in the midst of wide 
and lofty chambers, supported by curiously formed 
pillars. In one of these chambers Asbury, inspired 
by the scene, sung, 

" Still out of the deepest abyss 
Of trouble I mournfully cry." 

The stalactites, to the mind of the preacher, resem- 
bled the pipes of an immense organ, and when struck 


emitted a melodious sound, the intonations varying 
according to the size of the stalactites. The walls, 
which rose up in gloomy grandeur around him, and 
from which projected galleries, very much resembled 
an old cathedral. To a mind more romantic in its 
cast than that of Asbury the scenery in this wonderful 
chamber might have seemed more grand and magnif- 
icent, but it could not have excited profounder love 
and adoration for the wonderful and beautiful in the 
creations of God. 

Interesting as were the scenes around him, and 
much as they invited to study, the Master called and 
he must away on his errand. Some nights after we 
find him on the banks of Lost River, sympathizing 
with and praying for the men who had been drafted 
for the army. Again we find him benighted in the 
mountains, sleeping among the rocks, with nothing 
for his covering but the vaulted sky. Thus on he 
traveled until he reached Leesburg, where he held a 
quarterly meeting, and from thence he pursued his 
way, preaching from place to place, through Mary- 
land and Pennsylvania until he reached ^sTew York. 

The next Conference was held at Ellis's, in Virginia, 
on the 17th of April, 1782, and adjourned from thence 
to Baltimore, May 21. The number of preachers 
received on trial and into full connection during the 
sessions of this Conference was twenty, and the whole 
number sixty-six. The numbers in society had in- 


creased to eleven thousand seven hundred and eighty- 
five. The interchange of the preachers after six 
months on the different stations, a regulation early 
adopted, was kept up at this Conference. The appoint- 
ment of Asbury by Wesley as General Superintend- 
ent of the Methodist Church in America was unan- 
imously confirmed by the Conference. The difficulty 
under which they labored as unordained ministers, 
and hence unable according to the canons of the 
Episcopal Church to administer the sacraments of 
baptism and the Lord's supper, still continued, and 
proved a serious embarrassment to them in their 
labors. They found, however, in the person of the 
Rev. Mr. Jarratt, a minister of the Established Church, 
of unquestioned piety and greatly esteemed by all, a 
friendly coadjutor, and one who was ever ready, as 
far as possible, to attend the quarterly meetings and 
administer the sacraments. Impressed with the 
value of his services, the Conference passed a unani- 
mous resolution expressive of their gratitude for his 
kind offices, so cheerfully rendered. 

Had all the ministers of that Church possessed the 
same probity and virtue, and the same enlarged 
Christian benevolence as this man, much unhappy 
excitement would have been prevented, and much 
discontent quieted. As it was, the disaffection which 
existed, as we have seen, was of such a nature as 
seriously to threaten the disruption of the Church, 


but through the influence of Asbury's master spirit it 
was so far allayed as to produce no manifest disturb- 
ance or outbreak in the Conference, and the preachers 
resolved to wait the openings of Providence in rela- 
tion to their duty in this regard. The Churches 
under the jurisdiction of the Conference were gene- 
rally in a prosperous condition, and revivals of con- 
siderable interest prevailed in various portions of 
Virginia and Maryland. 

Asbury started out on his eleventh tour refreshed 
in spirit. He had separated from his brother minis- 
ters in all probability never again to see them all in 
this world, but his benediction rested upon all of them, 
and his prayers followed them to their different and 
distant fields of itinerant toil. The first day he rode 
upward of thirty miles without taking a morsel of 
food, but, like his houseless and homeless Master, he 
murmured not. The following day, which was the 
Sabbath, he preached at Boisseau's Chapel, and in the 
afternoon in the barn of the beloved Jarratt. This 
devoted man, like the sainted Fletcher, whose timely 
assistance was of great service to Wesley in the early 
days of Methodism, had like him partaken of the 
Methodist spirit, and without fear or reluctance he 
identified himself with the American itinerants. From 
hence he rode to Amelia, again without food during 
the whole of the journey. The next day he rode forty 
miles, and preached in the Broken-backed church on 


the Fluvanna circuit. Thus he kept on preaching at 
various places in Virginia until he reached Baltimore, 
where the Conference was to continue its session as 
above mentioned. Great harmony prevailed among 
all the preachers. The character of each was exam- 
ined and passed in regular order. At this Conference 
a plan for publishing books was proposed, but as it 
was thought the time had not arrived for engaging in 
this enterprise it was suspended until a future period. 
During the two weeks succeeding Conference Asbury 
traveled through Maryland and Pennsylvania a dis- 
tance of between two and three hundred miles, cross- 
ing the mountains on foot and preaching seventeen 
times in the woods and cabins to the widely scattered 
inhabitants. From hence he went into Delaware and 
Virginia, and on the 25th of August, 1783, we find 
him in New York. From New York he went to 
New England, and in his travels visited the town of 
Salem, where the Methodists received liberal assist- 
ance from the Quakers in building a house of worship. 
Finishing his tour in this region, he bent his course 
southward, and went to North Carolina, and after 
preaching at different points returned to Virginia. 
As the Conference was approaching, he directed his 
course toward the place of its meeting, which was 
Ellis's, in Sussex county, from which place, according 
to a resolution at the previous Conference, it was to be 
adjourned to Baltimore. 



As usual on the approach of the Conference, the 
mind of Asbury was intensely exercised in relation to 
the general interests of the Church. What perhaps 
occasioned him greater anxiety than anything else, 
was the arrangement for the work in the appoint- 
ments of the preachers. To place himself in the 
position and stead of all his brethren, and act toward 
each as he would have them act toward him under 
similar circumstances, was a work that required a 
vast amount of thoughtful deliberation, self-examina- 
tion, and prayer. The still solemn hour of night has 
often witnessed his deep agonizing prayer for that 
wisdom which was " pure, peaceable, easy to be en- 
treated," and which was " without partiality and 
without hypocrisy," that he might administer the 
affairs of the Church with " a conscience void of 
offense toward God and man." The Conference at 
Ellis's having lasted two days, closed in peace and 
harmony, and was afterward resumed in Baltimore. 

At this Conference there were reported eighty-two 
preachers, and thirteen thousand seven hundred and 
forty members, a large increase over the former year. 
It seems from Asbury's Journal that a preacher, 
named William Glendenning, had been devising a 
scheme to deprive him of the general superintend- 
ency, or at least to curtail his powers and prerogatives. 
The letter, however, which had been received from 
Mr. Wesley was so clear and decisive on that point 


that an end was put to all controversy. The letter 
is dated Bristol, October 3, 1783, and is as follows : 

" 1. Let all of you be determined to abide by the 
Methodist doctrine and discipline published in the 
four volumes of Sermons, and the Notes upon the 
New Testament, together with the Large Minutes of 

" 2. Beware of preachers coming from Great Brit- 
ain or Ireland without a full recommendation from 
me. Three of our traveling preachers have eagerly 
desired to go to America, but I could not approve of 
it by any means, because I am not satisfied that they 
thoroughly like either our discipline or our doctrine. 
I think they differ from our judgment in one or both. 
Therefore, if these or any other come without my 
recommendation take care how you receive them. 

" 3. Neither should you receive any preachers, 
however recommended, who will not be subject 
to the American Conference, and cheerfully conform 
to the Minutes both of the American and English 

" 4. I do not wish our American brethren to receive 
any who make any difficulty on receiving Francis 
Asbury as the general assistant. Undoubtedly the 
greatest danger to the work of God in America is 
likely to arise either from preachers coming from 
Europe, or from such as will arise from among your- 
selves speaking perverse things, or bringing in among 


you new doctrines, particularly Calvinism. You 
should guard against this with all possible care, for it 
is easier to keep them out than to thrust them out. 
I commend you all to the grace of God, and am your 

affectionate friend and brother, 


This was a timely letter, full of that kind of counsel 
most needed at that time. Had Wesley been a 
prophet he could not have uttered sayings more 
truthful, and the subsequent history of the Church 
shows most conclusively that his predictions were 
founded in a wise and truthful foresight. 

From Ellis's Asbury started out on his tour, and 
crossed the mountains, directing his course toward 
Redstone. Passing Little Meadows he took the 
Braddock road, a rough and dangerous way. Find- 
ing no accommodations, and being much exhausted 
by the journey, he was attacked by a fever and 
suffered much, but still rode on, preaching the next 
day. Thus he continued his journey until he reached 
Pennsylvania, and thence proceeded to Maryland. 
"While at Worley's, where he preached to a hundred 
and fifty people, he heard of the capture of Richard 
Williams. He was taken by the Indians on the 
north branch of the Potomac. A few days before 
Braddock's defeat, it seems that nineteen Indians 
attacked his father's house, killing both his father 
and mother and one of his nephews. Williams and 


his child were taken as prisoners, and carried to Fort 
Pitt, now Pittsburgh. They tied his hands to a tree 
every night to prevent his escape. At the fort he 
was deprived of his child. On the day of Brad- 
dock's defeat he was taken across the Ohio river, and 
sent under guard to Detroit. After remaining there 
some time he stole a Frenchman's gun and some am- 
munition, and made his escape, traveling most of the 
time through the woods. He was pursued by the 
Indians, who succeeded in heading him, which 
obliged him to turn out of his course. In crossing a 

o ~ 

stream the water went over his head and wet his 
powder. For three days he traveled on without any 
food, except some roots which lie dug as he passed 
along. Journeying on he came to a river, in the 
middle of which he saw two canoe loads of Indians. 
After they passed out of sight he made a raft of logs 
and crossed over. During all this time he subsisted 
on what he could pick up by the way. At length he 
reached the Ohio river, where he was surprised by 
an Indian who threw a tomahawk at him, but he es- 
caped, and succeeded in crossing the river. He was 
pursued and recaptured by two Frenchmen and five 
Indians. By these he was again taken to Fort Pitt. 
Being known as a deserter, a council was held, and 
he was condemned to be shot. He, however, feigned 
derangement, and seemed not to understand what 
was said to him. Again he made his escape 3 was 


pursued, seven guns were fired at him in succession 
by his pursuers, but still he eluded them. Again he 
was overtaken and fired upon, but again he made his 
escape. For five days he lived on acorns. One day, 
while picking some wild cherries, an Indian rushed 
upon him with a whoop and seized him, when pres- 
ently others joined him, and he was again a prisoner. 
After being in their possession a long time he at length 
made his escape and reached home, where he found 
his wife who had been praying for him constantly. 
Both were faithful members of the Methodist Church, 
and subsequently preaching was held at their house. 

We have related this to show what was the state 
of the western country, and what the trials of its 
inhabitants, when Asbury and his fellow-laborers 
penetrated the wilderness to preach the Gospel to its 
destitute population. 

The next place at which we find Asbury was at 
cparterly meeting in Philadelphia, whence he went 
to Burlington, New Jersey, and thence on to New 
York. Of New York he says : " We found the peo- 
ple alive to God. There are about one hundred in 
society, and with those in Philadelphia, to my mind, 
they appear more like Methodists than I have ever 
yet seen them." He was greatly comforted by this 
visit, and the members manifested their regard for 
him by supplying all his necessities. After visiting 
several contiguous places and preaching, he returned 


to New Jersey and Maryland. On Sunday, Novem* 
ber 14, 1784, at Barratt's Chapel, he met Dr. Coke 
and Richard Whatcoat. This was his first interview 
since their arrival in the country. "When they made 
known to him the object of their visit and the pow- 
ers with which they were intrusted by "Wesley, he 
was perfectly astounded. The idea of his not only 
having the superintendency, but of his being or- 
dained to that office, was more than he could think 
of assuming in connection with "Wesley an Method- 
ism ; and he had, to use his own language, come 
to the determination that if his brethren should 
unanimously choose him to that office, he would 
not accept it in the capacity he had hitherto done 
under Wesley's appointment. 

Before the departure of Coke and Whatcoat from 
England, "Wesley had abridged the Book of Common 
Prayer, and with the assistance of Dr. Coke and 
Rev. Mr. Creighton, of the Church of England, he 
set apart by solemn ordination Richard Whatcoat 
and Thomas Yasey as elders for the Church in Amer- 
ica. After this he ordained Dr. Coke as superinten- 
dent of the Methodist Church in America, and gave 
him letters of ordination under his hand and seal, ac- 
companied by a letter, in which he appointed Dr. 
Coke and Francis Asbury joint superintendents over 
the Church in America. 

The country having declared itself independent of 


Great Britain, peace having been obtained and com- 
mercial relations restored, the question of an inde- 
pendent Church was considerably discussed by the 
preachers. The prevalent opinion was that the time 
had arrived for the organization of a separate and 
distinct Church, free from all ecclesiastical alliance 
with the British Conference or the Established 
Church. On the arrival of Dr. Coke with his pow- 
ers the subject was renewed with greater interest 
than ever. As the result of a mutual discussion and 
interchange of opinion among several of the more 
aged preachers, it was determined to call a General 
Conference, to meet in Baltimore on the 25th of 
December, 1785. The Rev. Freeborn Garrettson, 
who had been early identified with the preachers, 
and who was a native American, was deputed to go 
to Virginia and the South and notify the preachers 
of the intended Conference. As Asbury was desirous 
of making Dr. Coke acquainted with the preachers 
and their work, he took him out on a tour from cir- 
cuit to circuit. At Bohemia they met Yasey, and in 
company they passed on to quarterly meeting at 
Deer Creek. Their next appointment was at Gough's. 
After remaining in this place near a week they rode 
to Frederick and held a quarterly meeting, and from 
thence went to Calvert quarterly meeting. Here 
Asbury met with Poythress, with whom he had a 
long and intimate conversation in regard to the con- 


templated Conference and the new matters which 
should conie before it. The love-feast which was 
held here was one of great interest and power. The 
work of religion among the colored people excited 
the attention of Asbury much. 

It was now within one month of the meetina- of 


Conference, and as the time approached Asbury be- 
came more and more absorbed in regard to the 
momentous questions which would be discussed. 
He set apart seasons for fasting and special prayer, 
that he might know the divine will in relation to 
that point in which he was particularly interested. 
The preachers and people generally, so far as his 
knowledge extended, seemed to look upon the con- 
templated arrangement with favor, and from this he 
was led to infer the Divine approval. But he was 
in no way elated with the prospect of advancement 
to the episcopal office. He was "not high-minded, 
but feared," as his clear and sagacious foresight as- 
sured him that the position would be attended with 
difficulty and danger. Soon after this he had an in- 
teresting conversation with the Rev. Mr. Weems, the 
subsequent biographer of Washington, on the subject 
of episcopal Church government. On the fourth 
of December he preached in Baltimore, and subse- 
quently at the Point, and from that time he devoted 
himself almost entirely to preparation for the coming 



Length of Time in America His Age An tmordained Preacher 
Number of Preachers and Members Character of the Preachers 
associated with him Marsden's Description of Asbury "Christmas 
General Conference" Dr. Coke Wesley's Letter An important 
Occasion A distinct and separate Organization Title of Church 
Office of Bishop elective Coke and Asbury elected Bishops Or- 
dination of Asbury Ordination Sermon Ordination of Deacons 
Power exercised by Asbury as an Assistant Superintendent under 
"Wesley Conference defines the Duty of a Bishop Abuse of Power 
Character of the present Episcopacy Short Obituaries Asbury's 
first Sermon as a Bishop Change in his Journal Effect of Adminis- 
tration of the Ordinances by Asbury on other Churches Charleston, 
South Carolina Lee Willis Conferences New Circuits Great 
Revivals York Surrender of Lord Cornwallis Alexandria Visit 
to George Washington Bath Springs Preaches in a Theater Bal- 
timore Philadelphia New York Heavy Labors Liberality of 
New York Methodists Asbury's first Wagon Last Wagon. 

FIFTEEN years had elapsed since Asbury commenced 
preaching in America. He was now forty years of 
age, and more than half of his life had been spent in 
preaching the Gospel, yet up to this time he was an 
unordained man. Ko ordinances of the Church had 
ever yet been administered by his hands, and he con- 
sented with the rest of his brethren in the ministry to 
receive the sacrament at the hands of the Episcopal 
priesthood. He had witnessed the progress of the 
Church in America from a feeble beginning, and had 
watched over it with the tenderest solicitude. When 


he entered upon the work there were but eight 
preachers, and a membership of only about six hun- 
dred ; now the number of preachers was one hundred 
and four, and the membership had risen to eighteen 
thousand. The preachers associated with him were 
all men of character, remarkably adapted to the 
times, and some of them were not a whit behind min- 
isters of other denominations for eloquence and 
scholarly attainment. If Methodism in England 
could boast of its Wesley and Fletcher, American 
Methodism could boast of its Asbury and Coke. 
They act neither wisely nor justly who in speaking 
of our fathers offer disparaging hints as to their want 
of education, and their inefficiency on that account. 
They were not all learned in the schools, perhaps, be- 
cause such facilities were not afforded them. 'Nor 
did they need such learning. They were not as a 
general thing brought into contact with the learned, 
but with that stern and sturdy manhood which is 
the result of an every-day battle with the realities 
of life. Deep students they were in the things of 
nature and the mysteries of God. Shut up to their 
Bibles and communion with the Father of spirits, 
they obtained an insight into the operations of 
the human mind and a knowledge of spiritual 
things which gave them a power over men, and a 
power with God, such as the closeted theologian, sur- 
rounded by his tomes of speculative divinity, never 


could attain. Often lias the remark been made of 
Asbury that " he could read men," an acquisition, for 
one whose mission was among the masses, vastly 
superior to that of an ability to read Sanscrit, or any 
or all of the languages living or dead. The following, 
as an illustration of his remarkable penetration and 
ability to look beneath the exterior, and judge of 
human character, is related in Cartwright's Autobi- 
ography. The incident occurred at one of the West- 
ern Conferences : " The Conference had been pre- 
ceded with glorious revivals of religion, and many of 
the wealthy, and some of the learned, had joined the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, among whom were two 
very learned young men ; one of them the son of a 
very distinguished, learned teacher, the other the son 
of a general a distinguished, wealthy man. Both 
of these young men professed to have a call to the 
ministry, and came with a recommendation to the 
Conference to be received on trial in the traveling 
connection. They were both present, and Bishop As- 
bury had narrowly observed their conduct and conver- 
sation. At the proper time Brother Learner Black- 
man, their presiding elder, presented their recommen- 
dations. He spoke of them in the highest terms, and 
considered them a great acquisition to the ministry 
and the Church. The Conference received them 
with great unanimity. Bishop Asbury had sat with 
his eyes nearly shut. After they were received he 


seemed to wake up. " Yes, yes !" he exclaimed ; 
" iu all probability they both will disgrace you and 
themselves before the year is out." And sure 
enough, in six months one was riding the circuit with 
a loaded pistol and a dirk, threatening to shoot and 
stab the rowdies; the other w r as guilty of a misde- 
meanor, and in less than nine months they were both 
out of the Church." Asbury was gifted with a won- 
derful power of discernment, and rarely failed in his 
judgment of human character. 

The Rev. Joshua Marsden thus describes him : 
"Bishop Asbury was one of those very few men 
whom nature forms in no ordinary mold. His mind 
was stamped with a certain greatness and originality 
which lifted him far above the merely learned man, 
and fitted him to be great without science, and ven- 
erable without titles. His knowledge of men was 
profound and penetrating ; hence he looked into 
character as one looks into a clear stream in order to 
discover the bottom ; yet he did not use this penetra- 
tion to compass any unworthy purposes ; the policy of 
knowing men in order to make the most of them, was 
a littleness to which he never stooped. He had only 
one end in view, and that was worthy the dignity of 
an angel ; from this nothing ever warped him aside. 
He seemed conscious that God had designed him for 
a great work, and nothing was wanting on his part to 
fulfill the intention of Providence. The niche was 


cut in the great temple of usefulness, and he stretched 
himself to fill it up in all its dimensions. To him 
the widest career of labor and duty presented no ob- 
stacle. Like a moral Csesar, he thought nothing done 
while anything remained to do. His penetrating 
eye measured the ground over which he intended to 
sow the seeds of eternal life, while his courageous and 
active mind cheerfully embraced all the difficulties 
engrafted upon his labors. He worshiped no god of 
the name of Terminus, but stretched 'his line of 
things ' far beyond the bounds of ordinary minds. An 
annual journey of six thousand miles through a wil- 
derness would have sunk a feebler mind into despond- 
ency ; but nothing retarded his progress, or once 
moved him from the line of duty. He pursued the 
most difficult and laborious course as most men do 
their pleasures ; and although for many years he was 
enfeebled by sickness, and worn with age and infirm- 
ity, two hundred thousand persons saw with astonish- 
ment the hoary veteran ' still standing in his lot,' 
or ' pressing his vast line ' of duty with undiminished 
zeal. The Methodist connection in united America 
gloried in having such a man to preside at their 
head, and few of the preachers ever spoke of his in- 
tegrity, diligence, and zeal, without imputing to 
themselves some worth in having him as their bishop. 
To all that bore the appearance of polished and pleas- 
ing life he was dead ; and both from habit and divine 


grace had acquired such a true greatness of mind, 
that he seemed to estimate nothing as excellent but 
what tended to the glory of God. Flattery, of which 
many great minds are highly susceptible, found him 
fortified behind a double guard of humility, and op- 
position but served to awaken those energies of mind 
which rise with difficulties and surmount the greatest. 
He knew nothing about pleasing the flesh at the ex- 
pense of duty ; flesh and blood were enemies with 
whom he never took counsel ; he took a high stand- 
ing upon the rugged Alps of labor, and to all that 
lagged behind, he said, i Come up hither.' He was 
a rigid enemy to ease ; hence the pleasures of study 
and the charms of recreation he alike sacrificed to 
the more sublime work of saving souls. His faith 
was a ' constant evidence of things not seen,' for he 
lived as a man totally blind to all worldly attractions. 
It is true that his self-denial savored of austerity, and 
yet he could sympathize with another's weakness. 
Some great and good men have had their sportive 
moments, and without committing ' half a sin,' have 
both smiled themselves, and been amused with 
others. But, although I have been in his company 
upon a variety of occasions, I never saw him indulge 
in even innocent pleasantry ; his was the solemnity of 
an apostle ; it was so interwoven with his conduct 
that he could not put off the gravity of the bishop 
either in the parlor or dining-room. What, on ac- 


count of levity, was once said of a popular preacher, 
that he should either never go in, or never come out 
of a pulpit, could never be applied to him. Wisdom 
is not more distant from folly than his conduct was 
from anything akin to trifling. He had stated hours 
of retirement and prayer, upon which he let neither 
business nor company break in. Prayer was the 
seasoning of all his avocations ; he never suffered the 
cloth to be removed from the table until he had 
kneeled down to address the Almighty ; it was the 
preface to all business, and often the link that con- 
nected opposite duties, and the conclusion of what- 
ever he took in hand. Divine wisdom seemed to 
direct all his undertakings, for he sought its counsels 
upon all occasions ; no part of his conduct was the 
result of accident ; the plan by which he transacted 
all his affairs was as regular as the movements of a 
time-piece, hence he had no idle moments, no frag- 
ments of time broken and scattered up and down ; no 
cause to say with Titus, 'my friends, I have lost a 
day.' Pleading with God in secret, settling the 
various affairs of the body over which he presided, 
or speaking i to men for their edification' in the pul- 
pit, occupied all time. 

"As a preacher, although not an orator, he was dig- 
nified, eloquent, and impressive ; his sermons were the 
result of good sense and sound wisdom, delivered 
with great authority and gravity, and often attended 


with Divine unction, which made them as refreshing: 

' O 

as the dew of heaven. One of the last subjects I 
heard him preach upon was union and brotherly 
love ; it was the greatest I ever heard upon that 

One who was intimately acquainted with him said 
to the writer : " Asbury was the only preacher I ever 
heard who preached to his text. He never preached 
from it, as many do who select a passage as the mere 
theme of a discourse, the discussion of which would 
be as applicable to an axiom of Coleridge as to the 
text, but he would start a proposition, and in its 
elaboration would come directly to the text. With 
him, proposition, argument, illustration, incident, 
everything was either immediately drawn from or 
directly connected with the subject of discourse." 

The Eev. Joseph Travis, of the Memphis Confer- 
ence, says of him : " Any one of discernment and judg- 
ment who has heard Bishop Asbury preach could not 
but notice his chaste 'though plain style, his gram- 
matical correctness, without the redundancy of rhe- 
torical figures. In argumentation he abounded in 
enthymemes without the circumlocution of logical 
propositions. Indeed, he was a learned man, and 
in the science of theology had but few equals if any 

The 25th of December, 1784, at length arrived, 
and Baltimore witnessed the gathering of sixty out of 



the whole number of preachers to the annual convo- 
cation. Dr. Coke was present at the Conference, 
and gave great satisfaction by his urbanity, and the 
impartial manner in which he presided. 

The first thing brought before the body was the 
letter of Wesley, which was subjected to a calm 
and thorough deliberation. As this letter presents 
Wesley's reason for acting as he did, and at the 
same time is an unanswerable defense of the 
subsequent action of the Conference, we give it 

" BEISTOL, September 10, 1784. 


" 1. By a very uncommon train of providences 
many of the provinces of North America are totally 
disjoined from the British empire, and erected into 
independent states. The English government has no 
authority over them, either civil or ecclesiastical, any 
more than over the states of Holland. A civil 
authority is exercised over them partly by the Con- 
gress, and partly by the state assemblies. But no one 
either exercises or claims any ecclesiastical authority 
at all. In this peculiar situation some thousands of 
the inhabitants of these states desire my advice, and 
in compliance with their desire I have drawn up a 
little sketch. 


" 2. Lord King's Account of the Primitive Church 
convinced me many years ago that bishops and pres- 
byters are the same order, and consequently have the 
same right to ordain. For many years I have been 
importuned from time to time to exercise this right 
by ordaining part of our traveling preachers, but I 
have still refused, not only for peace' sake, but be- 
cause I was determined as little as possible to violate 
the established order of the national Church to 
which I belong. 

" 3. But the case is widely different between En- 
gland and North America. Here there are bishops 
who have a legal jurisdiction. In America there are 
none, and but few parish ministers, so that for some 
hundred miles together there is none either to bap- 
tize or to administer the Lord's Supper. Here, there- 
fore, my scruples are at an end, and I conceive my- 
self at full liberty, as I violate no order and invade 
no man's right by appointing and sending laborers 
into the harvest. 

" 4. I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke and Mr. 
Francis Asbury to be joint Superintendents over our 
brethren in North America, as also Richard Whatcoat 
and Thomas Yasey to act as elders among them by 
administering baptism and the Lord's supper. 

"5. If any one will point out a more rational and 
Scriptural way of feeding and guiding those poor 
sheep in the wilderness, I will gladly embrace it. 


At present I cannot see any better method than that 
I have taken. 

" 6. It has, indeed, been proposed to desire the 
English bishops to ordain part of our preachers for 
America. But to this I object, (1.) I desired the 
Bishop of London to ordain one only, but could not 
prevail. (2.) If they consented, we know the slow- 
ness of their proceedings ; but the matter admits of 
no delay. (3.) If they would ordain them now they 
would likewise expect to govern them, and how 
grievously would this entangle us. (4.) As our 
American brethren are now totally disentangled 
both from the state and the English hierarchy, we 
dare not entangle them again either with the one or 
the other. They are now at full liberty simply to 
follow the Scriptures and the primitive Church. And 
we judge it best they should stand fast in that liberty 
wherewith God has so strangely made them free. 


Never before had the preachers met on so import- 
ant and solemn an occasion. Fifteen years had 
passed away since Wesley's first missionaries, Board- 
man and Pilmoor, arrived in America. Fourteen 
Conferences had been held, and again the toiling 
itinerants had assembled from their different and 
distant fields of labor and conquest to congratulate 
each other on the success which had attended their 


ministrations. After the necessary action had been 
taken by which they constituted themselves and fel- 
low-members a distinct and separate Church, the 
question came up in regard to the title by which 
they should be designated. At this crisis John 
Dickins, a man of varied learning, sound sense, and 
sterling piety, than whom none of the entire Confer- 
ence commanded greater respect, rose and proposed 
The Methodist Episcopal Church, which was adopted 
without a dissenting voice. 

The first act of the Conference, therefore, was to 
adopt a declaration that the Methodist societies are 
free and independent, and organize them into a body 
ever after to be known as The Methodist Episco- 
pal Church in the United States. The next act was 
to declare the office of bishop elective, after which 
a unanimous vote was cast in favor of Dr. Thomas 
Coke and Francis Asbury as bishops of this Church. 

Asbury, being up to his election unordained, was 
first ordained a deacon and then an elder. After 
this ceremony of consecration, Dr. Coke, assisted by 
several elders, set him apart by the imposition of 
hands as Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
The following is the certificate of his ordination : 

" Know all men by these presents, That I, Thomas 
Coke, Doctor of Civil Law, late of Jesus Col- 
lege, in the University of Oxford, Presbyter of the 
Church of England and Superintendent of the Meth- 


odist Episcopal Church in America, under the protec- 
tion of Almighty God, and with a single eye to his 
glory, by the imposition of my hands and prayer, 
(being assisted by two ordained elders,) did, on the 
twenty-fifth day of this month (December) set apart 
Francis Asbury for the office of a deacon in the 
aforesaid Methodist Episcopal Church. And also on 
the twenty-sixth day of the said month did, by the 
imposition of my hands and prayer, (being assisted 
by the said elders,) set apart the said Francis Asbury 
for the office of elder in the said Methodist Episcopal 
Church. And on this twenty-seventh day of the said 
month, being the day of the date hereof, have, by 
the imposition of my hands and prayer, (being as- 
sisted by the said elders,) set apart Francis Asbury 
for the office of Superintendent in the said Methodist 
Episcopal Church, a man whom I judge to be well 
qualified for the great work. And I do hereby 
recommend him to all whom it may concern as a fit 
person to preside over the flock of Christ. 

"In testimony hereof, I have hereunto set my hand 
and seal this twenty-seventh day of December, in the 
year of our Lord 1784. THOMAS COKE." 

A sermon was preached by Dr. Coke on the occa- 
sion from Rev. iii, 7-11. The sermon was vindica- 
tory of the action of the Conference in its assumption 
of an episcopal form of government, and entered 


somewhat elaborately into the argument of succes- 
sion, concluding with the qualifications necessary for 
a Christian bishop. 

The office of deacon and elder being made elective 
as well as that of bishop, the following twelve were 
elected and ordained elders : Freeborn Garrettson, 
William Gill, Le Roy Cole, John Haggerty, James O. 
Cromwell, John Tunnel, Nelson Reed, Jeremiah Lam- 
bert, Reuben Ellis, James O'Kelly, Richard Ivey, 
Beverly Allen, and Henry Willis. One of these was 
ordained for the Island of Antigua and two for Nova 
Scotia. John Dickins, Caleb Boyer, and Ignatius 
Pigman were elected and ordained deacons. 

The ordination of Asbury to the office of bishop, 
though it conferred upon him. a new title, did not 
increase his power or his usefulness. His determina- 
tion to submit to the will of a majority, and his un- 
willingness to exercise any power not delegated to 
him by his brother preachers, deprived him of the 
power he exercised under the appointment of Wes- 
ley as General Superintendent or assistant. Acting 
as he did in Wesley's stead, his power was almost, if 
not quite, absolute in the Conference, and the right 
was conceded to him at any time to stop discussion 
on any subject, and decide the question when in his 
judgment enough had been said on both sides. From 
this decision there was no appeal. His acts in decid- 
ing questions, as well as in stationing the preachers, 


were peremptory and final. At this Conference, 
however, under the question, " What is the duty of a 
bishop C the following answer is given : " To preside 
as moderator in our Conferences, fix the appointments 
of the preachers for the several circuits, and in the 
interval of the Conference to change, receive, or sus- 
pend preachers as necessity may require; to travel 
through as many circuits as he can, and to direct in 
the spiritual business of the societies, as also to ordain 
bishops, elders, and deacons." The following note is 
added: "The bishop has obtained liberty by the suf- 
frages of the Conference to ordain local preachers to 
the office of deacons, provided they obtain a testi- 
monial from the society to which they belong, and 
from the stewards of the circuit, signed by three 
traveling preachers, three deacons, and three elders, 
(one of them being presiding elder,) the names of 
those nominated being read in the Conference pre- 
vious to their ordination." 

It was doubtless an abuse of the power exercised 
by Rankin as superintendent which brought him in 
collision with the preachers, and induced him at one 
time to complain of Asbury to Wesley ; and it was 
doubtless the experience of Asbury in regard to the 
operation of this part of the machinery of Church 
government, that prompted him to take the course he 
did in refusing the episcopate without the unanimous 
concurrence of his brother preachers, and also, no 


doubt, to him is to be ascribed the moderate episco- 
pacy which has ever since characterized the Church. 

Our bishops now rarely, if ever, speak in Conference 
on any subject not immediately connected with 
their office, and never advance an opinion unless 
solicited by the action of the Conference, much less 
presume to decide questions of debate. We have 
even known them voted down when in the exercise 
of the only right they have in deciding questions of 
order. Their decisions of law are subject to quadren- 
nial revision, and may be wholly set aside by the 
General Conference. They have not even the right 
which is allowed to every president and moderator 
of any and every ecclesiastical assembly with which 
we are acquainted, to vote on any question, no matter 
how vital to Methodism. They have never in any 
instance transcended their powers, but, as those who 
have been placed by the Holy Spirit in the position 
of overseers, have always commended themselves by 
their holy lives, and their zeal and self-sacrificing 
devotion to all the interests of the Church. 

"We find in the printed Minutes of this memorable 
Conference two short obituaries under the question 
" Who have died this year?" This was the first time 
this question appeared in the Minutes. Death had 
not before invaded the ranks of the regular itiner- 
ancy, and hence no memorials of his doings were to 
be found on the records of the previous Conferences. 


"We transcribe these memoirs because of tlieir remark- 
able brevity and point, and as admirable specimens 
of biography. The first answer to the question, 
"Who have died this year ?" reads : " Caleb B. Ped- 
icord a man of sorrows, and, like his Master, ac- 
quainted with grief; but a man dead to the world, 
and much devoted to God." 

A writer, in describing Pedicord, says: "There 
was one for whom Asbury looked in vain, one who 
had been his companion in many a long and dreary 
journey, one whose eloquent voice had often made 
the hearts of listening thousands 

' Thrill as if an angel spoke, 
Or Ariel's finger touch'd the string.' 

Pedicord, the gentle spirited, the generous minded, 
the noble souled, the silver-tongued Pedicord, had 
fallen, had fallen in his youth, fallen in his opening 
glory and abundant promise. Asbury looked for him 
and he was not. The grave had closed over his body, 
and his spirit had passed to the land where only 
spirits so refined, so sensitive, so ethereal as his find 
congenial sympathy and rest." 

The second answer is as follows : " George Mair 
a man of affliction, but of great patience and resigna- 
tion, and of excellent understanding." 

These brief, comprehensive memoirs are more ex- 
pressive than lengthened eulogy. There is something 
so remarkable in these obituaries that the reader will 


pardon us if we add a few more, as they are found in 
succeeding Minutes of the Conferences. 

" Jeremiah Lambert an elder, six years in the 
work; a man of sound judgment, clear understanding, 
good gifts, genuine piety, and very useful, humble, 
and holy; diligent in life and resigned in death; 
much esteemed in the connection, and justly la- 
mented. "We do not sorrow as men without hope, 
but expect shortly to join him and all those who rest 
from their labors." 

" James Thomas a pious young man of good gifts, 
useful and acceptable, blameless in his life, and much 
resigned in his death." 

"Henry Bingham a native of Virginia, four years 
a laborer in the vineyard, serious, faithful, zealous, 
humble and teachable, and during part of the last 
year more than commonly successful; fervent in ex- 
hortation during his sickness, and resigned in death." 

" William Gill a native of Delaware, an elder in 
the Church, and a laborer in it for about twelve 
years; blameless in life, of quick and solid parts, 
sound in the faith, clear in his judgment, meek in 
his spirit, resigned and solemnly happy in his death." 

" John Cooper fifteen years in the work ; quiet, 
inoffensive, and blameless; a son of affliction, subject 
to dejection, sorrow, and sufferings, often in want, 
but too modest to complain till observed and relieved 
by his friends. He died in peace." 


James White a native of Maryland, about eight 
years in the work ; a simple-hearted man and a 
lively preacher; afflicted, yet active and laborious; 
soft and kind in his affections, patient in suffering, 
well received and much esteemed, successful in the 
work of God, resigned in his death." 

"Francis Spry a pious man, skillful and lively in 
his preaching, sound in judgment, holy in his life, 
placid in his mind, of unshaken confidence and 
patience in his death ; four years a laborer in the 

" John Tunnell, who died of a consumption at the 
Sweet Springs in July. He was about thirteen 
years in the work of the ministry, a man of solid 
piety, great simplicity, and godly sincerity; well 
known, and much esteemed both by ministers and 
people. He had traveled extensively through the 
states, and declined in sweet peace." 

After the session of Conference on Monday, As- 
bury preached his first sermon since his ordination. 
It was very evident that the imposition of hands 
communicated no new grace or gift, for according to 
his own experience he u was unsettled in mind and 
low in his own testimony." The next day he 
traveled on horseback fifty miles through frost and 
snow to Fairfax, Virginia, The day following he 
rode forty miles further, and thus continued until the 
Sabbath, when he halted for labor not for rest. 


We now discover a change in the entries made in 
Asbury's Journal. Previously he gave a simple 
statement of his preaching, associated with the exer- 
cises of his mind, and the incidents connected with 
his traveling. Now, in addition to these, he records 
his acts in administering the ordinances. Hence, at 
his Sabbath appointment he writes : " We read 
prayers, preached, ordained Brother Willis, deacon, 
and baptized some children." As a part of his ex- 
perience, he adds : " I am sometimes afraid of being 
led to think something more of myself in my new 
station than formerly." From Virginia he went to 
North Carolina. In his journey he records the usual 
incidents of long fatiguing rides over rough roads, 
crossing rivers and rugged mountains, sleeping in 
comfortless quarters, frequently three in a bed, and 
hard fare. He remarks in one place where he ad- 
ministered the ordinances, that " nothing could have 
better suited the old Church folks than the late step 
the Conference had taken in regard to ordination ; to 
the catholic Presbyterians it also gave satisfaction ; 
but the Baptists were not at all pleased with the 
movement, and in some instances they presented 
difficulties in the way of infant baptism, unsettling the 
minds of some." From hence he went to South 
Carolina, preaching at every place on the route 
where congregations could be collected. In refer- 
ence to Charleston he says : " The Calvinists are the 


only people here who appear to have any sense of re- 
ligion, and they are much alarmed. Yesterday (Sun- 
day) we had small congregations in the morning and 
at noon, but at night we were crowded. In the 
evening, while Brother Lee preached, the people were 
a little moved." After remaining in Charleston dur- 
ing another week, preaching frequently through 
opposition from the ministers of the place, who mis- 
represented the doctrines of Methodism to the people, 
he departed on his journey. Willis, who had been 
ordained an elder, and accompanied Asbury and Lee 
to Charleston, was left to labor in the place, and, if 
possible, raise up a Methodist society. 

During this year Asbury attended three Confer- 
ences, at which all the important business of a local 
nature was transacted. Five new circuits were add- 
ed : Santee and Pedee in ]S"orth Carolina, Xewark 
in ISTew Jersey, and Kentucky in the State of Ken- 
tucky. The stations in Antigua (in the West Indies) 
and Nova Scotia were continued on the Minutes. 
Great revivals prevailed in Maryland and other parts 
of the country, and upward of five hundred had been 
converted and joined the Church on Talbot Circuit 
alone. The membership rose to twenty thousand 
six hundred and eighty-four, and the number of trav- 
eling preachers to one hundred and seventeen, an in- 
crease in the former of upward of two thousand six 
hundred, and in the latter of thirteen. 


In his visit to Yorktown during this year he makes 
the following entry: " Eode to York, lately the seat of 
war. Here Lord Cornwallis surrendered to the com- 
bined armies of America and France. The inhabit- 
ants are dissolute and careless. I preached to a few 
serious women at one o'clock, and at the desire of the 
ladies again at four. I lodged in the poor-house." 
From this place he went to Alexandria, where he 
paid a visit to General Washington, who treated him 
with great courtesy and respect. For Washington, 
Asbury ever had the greatest regard and admiration, 
as will be seen in the subsequent pages of this book. 
While on a visit to the Bath Springs, Virginia, he 
preached in the theater, and lodged under the same 
roof with the play-actors. Some who would not hear 
him preach at their respective homes, made in this 
new and strange place a part of his audience. His 
spirit was much grieved while beholding the vanity 
displayed by the fashionable frequenters of this 
Catering-place. From Bath he went to Baltimore, 
and from thence to Philadelphia, where he had a 
large congregation. From Philadelphia he rode to 
New York, and preached on three successive days. 
We note his labors in this city for one Sabbath. 
He says : " Notwithstanding I was very unwell I 
preached three times, read prayers twice, and 
held a love-feast." Such labors would have been 
abundant for a well man, but Asbury often preached 


while laboring under various forms of disease. Such 
were the necessities of the case that " his zeal con- 
sumed him." The society in New York had in- 
creased in numbers and in grace since his last 
visit, and the congregations were also much larger. 
Again was he refreshed in spirit, and comforted by 
the liberality of the New York Methodists in supply- 
ing his temporal wants. The next Sabbath we find 
him at a quarterly meeting on Morris river. In this 
neighborhood he purchased what he called his first 
wagon, for which he gave forty pounds, but antici- 
pated trouble in traveling and getting horses. 

While the writer was stationed in Marietta in 
1838, he visited a friend on Duck Creek, in Wash- 
ington County, who took him into his yard and ex- 
hibited some of the remains of Asbury's "last 
wagon." Though he is no worshiper of relics, such 
was his respect and reverence for the pioneer bishop 
of Methodism, that he asked for and obtained a por- 
tion of this wagon from, which he had a cane manu- 
factured. This carriage -had borne the bishop around 
the continent again and again, but here it reached 
the end of its journey, and " its weary wheels at last 
stood still." What a biography could be written 
of that wagon ! How precious has been its freight ! 
what adventures, incidents, and accidents could it 
relate ! Enough to fill a volume. 



John Dickins Description of, by Asbury Subscription for "Kings- 
wood High School in America" -Claims of, presented by Asbury 
Dr. Coke's Sympathy with the Enterprise Suggests the Propriety of 
founding a College Adopted by the Conference Plan drawn up ac- 
cordingly Eules and Regulations Abingdon selected as the Site 
Beauty of Situation Laying the Corner-Stone of Cokesbury College 

Asbury's Sermon on the Occasion Dedication An ominous Text 
-First Faculty of the College Eules and Eegulations Asbury and 

College Finances Its Management a source of great Anxiety Its His- 
tory' Destruction by Fire The Subject of Rebuilding agitated by 
Dr. Coke A Building suited to the Purpose purchased in Baltimore 

College reopened Faculty Eegulations and Course of Study 
Destroyed by Fire School for Charity Boys in Georgia Bethel 
Academy Seminary in New York Progress of Education in the 
Church Eemarks of Hon. Edward Everett. 

THE name of John Dickins is early associated with 
education in the Methodist Episcopal Church. While 
Asbury was traveling in North Carolina in the spring 
of 1780, Dickins was his companion. He occasion- 
ally preached, but labored under a bronchial affec- 
tion to such an extent that he almost entirely lost his 
voice. In describing him Asbury says: "He is a 
man of great piety, but he reasons too much. He 
has great skill in learning, drinks in Greek and Latin 
swiftly, yet prays much and walks close with God. 
He is a gloomy countryman of mine, and very diffi- 
dent of himself." At this time Dickins drew up a 
subscription for what Asbury called " a Kingswood 



School in America," and which he " hoped would be 
for the glory of God and the good of thousands." 
Thus the first movement toward education in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church took its origin in the 
minds of Asbuiy and Dickins upward of seventy 
years ago. The mind of Asbury became wholly ab- 
sorbed in the enterprise, and in his intercourse with 
the people and preachers in different parts of the 
country he urged its importance and presented its 
claims. As soon as he met Dr. Coke, after his arri- 
val in this country, he made him acquainted with his 
plans. With the doctor, of course, the views and 
purposes of Asbury found sympathy. The design 
of Asbury was, however, simply the founding of a 
school similar to that of Kingswood, the idea of an 
institution having collegiate powers never having 
entered his mind. 

When the subject was brought before the Confer- 
ence, in 1785, Dr. Coke advocated the propriety of 
founding a college, and succeeded in securing the 
adoption of a resolution favoring that view, and pro- 
viding the incipient measures for the establishment 
of such an institution. 

After due consultation and deliberation the site 
for the college was selected in the town of Abing- 
don, about twenty-five miles distant from the city of 
Baltimore. The spot commanded a magnificent 
view, extending for twenty and even fifty miles. 


The valley of the Susquehanna spread out in 
beauty on either side of the river, forming a most 
charming landscape. In the distance was to be seen 
the broad and beautiful bay of the Chesapeake, 
stretching away as far as the eye could reach. The 
eminence upon which it was proposed to erect the 
college buildings seemed to have been formed by 
the God of nature as a place for the erection of a 
temple of science. 

Through the labors of Coke and Asbury nearly 
five thousand dollars had been raised by donations 
and subscriptions for the purpose of erecting the 
buildings ; and at length the workmen laid out the 
grounds, and commenced laying the foundation of 
an edifice one hundred and eight feet in length and 
forty in breadth. On Sabbath, the fifth day of June, 
1785, a large concourse of people were assembled on 
the eminence to witness the ceremonies connected 
with the laying of the corner-stone of Cokesbury 
College, for such was the name given it by the Con- 
ference in honor of its founders. Asbury had been 
selected as the speaker for the occasion. Attired in 
his long silk gown, and with his flowing bands, the 
pioneer bishop of America took his position on the 
walls of the college and announced for his text the 
following : " The sayings which we have heard and 
known, and our fathers have told us. We will 
not hide them from their children, showing to the 


generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his 
strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 

ij / 

For he established a testimony in Jacob, and ap- 
pointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our 
fathers, that they should make them known to their 
children : that the generation to come might know 
them, even the children which should be born : who 
should arise and declare them to their children : that 
they might set their hope in God, and not forget the 
works of God, but keep his commandments." The 
Spirit of the Lord was with him as with Elijah at the 
school of the prophets at Bethel. As he dwelt 
upon the importance of a thorough religious educa- 
tion, and looked forward to the effects which would 
result to the generations to come from the streams 
which should spring from this opening fountain of 
sanctified learning, his soul enlarged and swelled 
with rapturous emotion. 

The work thus auspiciously begun was carried for- 
ward to a successful completion, and those who wit- 
nessed the laying of the corner-stone also witnessed 
the raising of the capstone to its place with the 
shouts of triumphant success. On the 8th, 9th, and 
10th days .of December, 1787, the college was opened 
by religious exercises, Bishop Asbury preaching each 
day in the college building. The dedication sermon 
proper was preached on Sabbath from those singular, 
and what afterward proved to be ominous words, 


and it would seem premonitory of the fate of the col- 
lege : " O man of God, there is death in the pot." 
The institution began with twenty-five students. The 
Rev. Mr. Heath was called to the presidency of the 
college, and his assistants in the faculty were Jacob 
Hall, A. M., Patrick M'Closkey, and Charles Tite. 

A plan of education was adopted embracing not 
only a course of study, but rules and regulations for 
the internal arrangement which, though they might 
be regarded as somewhat singular at the present day, 
are worthy of consideration, and some of which might 
be wisely adopted by our colleges. The design of 
the institution was to educate the sons of the elders 
and preachers of the Methodist Church, as well as 
poor orphans, and the sons of its patrons and other 
friends, the latter of whom were expected to pay a 
" moderate sum for tuition and board," while the 
former were to be educated, boarded, and clothed 
gratuitously. It was also designed for the benefit of 
young men who were called to preach, in furnishing 
them facilities for prosecuting a course of study pre- 
paratory to their entering upon the work of the min- 
istry. From the Life of Valentine Cook, written by 
Dr. Stevenson, and recently published, it appears that 
this early pioneer of the West and South, whose fer- 
vid eloquence startled many a sinner in his career 
of wickedness, and whose persuasive power brought 
many a wanderer to the fold, was instructed here. 


Bishop Asbury was ex officio president of the college, 
and we may claim for him the honor of beinor the first 


president of a Methodist college in America, as well 
as the pioneer bishop of the Church. In regard to 
the Church, it may be said no man ever lived who 
projected himself farther into the future of all that 
pertains to her genius, government, and institutions 
than did Asbury. 

But to return to the college. The course of study 
embraced the various English branches, the Latin 
and Greek languages, together with Hebrew, Ger- 
man, and French, a curriculum whose scope is not 
excelled by any of our institutions of the present day. 
Founded as it was in religion, and designed to be 
the alma mater of a correct faith as well as sound 
morals, the most careful provision was made for 
securing these ends. Hence we find the following 
in the published plan : 

" Our first object shall be to answer the design of 
Christian education, by forming the minds of the 
youth, through divine aid, to wisdom and holiness, 
by instilling into their tender minds the principles 
of true religion, speculative, experimental, and prac- 
tical, and training them in the ancient way, that they 
may be rational, Scriptural Christians. For this pur- 
pose we shall expect and enjoin it, not only on the 
president and tutors, but also upon our elders, dea- 
cons, and preachers, to embrace every opportunity 


of instructing the students in the great branches of 
the Christian religion. 

" And this is one principal reason why we do not 
admit students indiscriminately into our college, for 
we are persuaded that the promiscuous admission of 
all sorts of youth into a seminary of learning is preg- 
nant with many bad consequences. ISTor are the 
students likely (suppose they possessed it) to retain 
much religion in a college where all that offer are 
admitted, however corrupted already in principle as 
well as in practice? And what wonder, when (as 
too frequently it happens) the parents themselves 
have no more religion than their offspring." 

Who has not been struck with the wisdom of the 
founders of this college in their regulations in regard 
to the study of the classics, a wisdom which has since 
been acted upon in furnishing expurgated editions of 
the classics for our colleges. The whole plan shows 
conclusively that they were far in advance of the 
age in which they lived. In regard to this subject 
the plan says : 

" In teaching the languages care shall be taken to 
read those authors, and those only, who join together 
the purity, the strength, and the elegance of their sev- 
eral tongues. And the utmost caution shall be used 


that nothing immodest be found in any of our books. 
"But this is not all. We shall take care that our 
books be not only inoffensive but useful ; that they 


contain as much strong sense and as much genuine 
morality as possible. As far, therefore, as is consist- 
ent with the foregoing observations, a choice and 
universal library shall be provided for the use of the 

For the recreation of the students they say : " The 
employments which we have chosen are such as are 
of the greatest public utility, agriculture and archi- 
tecture studies more especially necessary for a new 
settled country ; and of consequence the instructing 
of our youth in all the practical branches of those 
important arts will be an effectual method of render- 
ing them more useful to their country. Agreeably 
to this idea, the greatest statesman that perhaps ever 
shone in the annals of history, Peter, the Russian 
emperor, who was deservedly styled the Great, dis- 
dained not to stoop to the employment of a ship car- 
penter. ISTor was it rare, during the purest times of 
the Roman republic, to see the conquerors of nations 
and deliverers of their country return with all sim- 
plicity and cheerfulness to the exercise of the plow. 
In conformity to this sentiment, one of the completes! 
poetic pieces of antiquity (the Georgics of Virgil) is 
written on the subject of husbandry." 

The rules for the government of the students in 
regard to time of rising, hours of study, recreation, 
and religious services, were of the most wholesome, 
disciplinary character. 


The financial business of the college, embracing the 
raising of funds and their disbursement, as well as 
the business of the Book Concern, and the raising of 


funds for the support of western missionaries, all fell 
upon Asbury. His self-sacrificing devotion to the 
interests of the Church was of the purest and intensest 
character. His salary was only sixty-four dollars a 
year and traveling expenses, about as much as one of 
our city preachers at the present day would get for 
delivering a lecture in an adjoining town. Often have 
the clothes of Asbury been worn threadbare and 
become shabby in appearance, and he obliged to de- 
prive himself of some of the comforts of life ; but 
uncomplainingly, unless in behalf of his poor preach- 
ers, he went on his way, living not for himself, but 

y i O 

consecrating all to God and the Church. 

The college was to Asbury a source of constant 
anxiety, and sometimes gave him trouble. In IT 88 
the following was entered in his Journal : "I have 
received heavy tidings from the college ; both our 
teachers have left, one for incompetency, and the other 
to pursue riches and honor. Had they cost ns noth- 
ing, the mistake we made in employing them might 
be the less regretted." 

Cokesbury College had been in existence a period 
of ten years, and had gained the sympathy and confi- 
dence of the Churoh in all parts of the country. It 
was watched over by Asbury with the care and solio 


itude with which a father would watch over an only 
child. But alas ! like many a bright and beautiful ob- 
ject of hope and promise, it was doomed to an early 
grave. The sad intelligence came to Asbury's ears one 
morning that the beloved Cokesbury was no more. A 
heap of smoldering ruins was all that marked the 
lovely site where it reared its walls. To none were 
the tidings of its sad fate more melancholy than to him 
who was in the most emphatic sense its founder, and 
the labors of whose head and hands and heart wece 
constantly devoted to its support. The following 
entry is made in his Journal: "Charleston, South Car- 
olina, Tuesday, January the 5th, 1796. Continued 
our business in Conference. We have great peace 
and love, see eye to eye and heart to heart. We have 
now a second and confirmed account that Cokesbury 
College is consumed to ashes, a sacrifice of 10,000 
in about ten years. If any man should give me 
10,000 per year to do and suffer again what I 
have done for that house, I would not do it. The 
Lord called not Mr. Whitefield nor the Methodists to 
build colleges. I wished only for schools Dr. Coke 
wanted a college. I feel distressed at the loss of the 
library." Though Asbury was entirely discouraged, 
looking upon this calamity as an indication of Provi- 
dence, that if the Methodists were to engage in the 
work of collegiate education the present was not the 
time for embarking in that enterprise, it was not so 


witli Dr. Coke. He immediately agitated the subject 
of rebuilding, and obtained from the citizens of Ab- 

C7* 7 

ingdon a liberal subscription for that purpose. A 
number of friends in Baltimore, after consulting to- 
gether, also gave a subscription amounting to between 
four and five thousand dollars. It was subsequently 
ascertained that a building every way suited to the 
purpose could be obtained in Baltimore for the sum 
of twenty -two thousand dollars, and after due delibe- 
ration the purchase was made. 

As there was a considerable lot of ground in con- 
nection with the building, it was determined to erect 
a church thereon, which was accordingly done. In 
due course of time the college was opened under the 
most favorable auspices. The friends of education 
in the Methodist Church were greatly encouraged 
by a prospect of success even more promising than 
that connected with the commencement of the 
original Cokesbury. 

It was not long, however, that Asbury College was 
permitted to stand. The fate that attended Cokes- 
bury seemed to hang over it, and like that institution 
it was consumed by fire. Though these successive 
cross dispensations suspended for a while the efforts 
of the Church in the cause of education, it was only a 
suspension. In Asbury's Journal for 1789 we find the 
following entry in regard to a Methodist school in 


Georgia: " The school for the charity boys in Georgia 
greatly occupies my mind. Our annual expenditures 
will amount to one thousand dollars, and the aid 
we get is but trifling; the poverty of the people, 
and the general scarcity of money, is the great 
source of our difficulties ; the support of our preach- 
ers who have families absorbs our collections, so 
that neither do our elders nor the charity school 
get much. We have the poor, but they have no 
money, and the wicked rich we do not choose 
to ask." The Conference appointed a committee 
to procure five hundred acres of land for the 
establishment of this school. 

In 1790, during Asbury's visit to the West, he 
originated the plan of an academy, which was de- 
nominated The Bethel Academy. A gentleman by 
the name of Lewis made a donation of one hundred 
acres of land. A spacious building was erected, 
eighty by forty feet, and three stories high. The 
design was to accommodate the students in the house 
with boarding, etc. The first and second stories were 
principally finished, and a spacious hall in the center. 
The building of this house rendered the pecuniary 
means of the preachers very uncertain, for they 
were continually employed in begging for Bethel. 
The people were very liberal, but they could not do 
more than they did. The country was new, and 
the unsettled state of the people, in consequence 


of the Indian wars and depredations, kept it in a 
continual state of agitation. The Legislature at 
an early period made a donation of six thousand 
acres of land to Bethel Academy. The land was 


located in Christian county, south of Green River; 

ti > 

it remained a long time unproductive, and proved 
rather a bill of expense than otherwise. 

In the Methodist Magazine for 1819 we find an in- 
teresting description of a seminary of learning in 
New York, under the patronage of the New York 
Conference. This institution was divided into male 
and female departments, and the course of study em- 
braced not only the English branches, but the ancient 
classics. Mr. !N". Morris was president, and Miss 
Caroline Matilda Thayer preceptress of the female 
department. The Conference visitor reported the in- 
stitution as in a high state of prosperity. We cannot 
trace the history of this seminary, as we have not the 
necessary items of information. Since that time 
seminaries and colleges have sprung up under Meth- 
odist patronage in all parts of the land, from Maine 
to Texas, on the shores of the Pacific, among the In- 
dians, and also in South America and Africa, and, in 
the language of Edward Everett, there is no Church 
in the country so successfully engaged in the cause of 
education as the Methodist Church, nor one that dur- 
ing the last twenty-five years has done more for the 
advancement of the cause. 



Dismal Swamp Perilous Journey Meets Dr. Coke at Charleston 
Conference Preaching Asbury's Travels Description of Dr. Coke's 
Sermon at New York Hempstead Harbor Preaches in a Paper-Mill 
Eeturns to New York Trouble in the Church about Congregational 
Singing Journey up the Hudson Description of West Point New- 
burgh Bath Delivers a Course of Lectures on the Prophecies 
Dejection of Mind First Ordination in the Mississippi Valley As- 
bury in Gown and Bands Eearranges the Discipline "When First 
Edition was printed New Edition Questions and Answers omitted 
Revised Edition Fifth Edition New Sections Notes on the Disci- 
pline General Conference at Charleston, South Carolina, 1788 
Georgia Crossing the Mountains Hard Fare A stubborn Horse 
An Incident Character of Early Settlers Letter to a Quaker in Del- 
aware Tour to the Western Wilderness Horses stolen by Indians 
Perils of the Journey Conference in Lexington Return through the 
Wilderness Conference at Petersburg!! Bishop's Council Threat- 
ening Letter from O'Kelly Asbury's Reply Asbury vindicates 
himself Jesse Lee in New England His Character First Sermon 
in Boston Letter to Asbury Letter from Poythress. 

ON his round in 178 7 Asbury was not a little 
startled and his courage put to the test by being in- 
formed by Poythress that the great Dismal Swamp, 
which lay directly in his path, could not be crossed 
but with great danger. To travel round it would re- 
quire a ride of sixty miles. For this he had not 
time, and he resolved to trust in God and push 
through, and with a courage which never failed him 
he entered the dismal waters. He was everywhere 
surrounded with a wide sweep of waters and deep 


morasses. "O," exclaimed the pioneer bishop, "what 
a world of swamps, and rivers, and islands !" After 
he had passed the swamp he writes : "Three miles on 
the water and three more on roads under water made 
our jaunt unpleasant." 

Meeting Dr. Coke at Charleston, his spirit was re- 
freshed. On the 25th of March the Conference for the 
South commenced its session. On Sabbath morning 
he preached from the text, " I had rather be a door- 
keeper in the house of God than to dwell in the 
tents of wickedness." In the evening he preached 
from the passage, " For I will rise up against them, 
saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon 
the name and remnant, and son and nephew, saith 
the Lord." During the business of Conference all 
matters pertaining to the temporal and spiritual in- 
terests of the Church were fully and freely discussed. 
On Wednesday Dr. Coke preached a sermon on the 
qualifications and duties of deacons. On the suc- 
ceeding day the appointments were announced and 
the Conference closed. 

We find the tireless Asbury frequently riding 
thirty and forty and sometimes fifty miles a day, 
and preaching once or twice, often swimming 
the rivers, and exposed to all kinds of hardships. 
From Saturday to Saturday he and Dr. Coke rode 
three hundred miles and preached alternately every 
day. On his return from the South, taking Balti- 


more and Philadelphia in his route as usual, he 
arrived at New York. Of Dr. Coke Asbury says: 
"He preached on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and 
Monday with great energy and acceptance." On 
Tuesday he himself preached from the text, "For 
Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jeru- 
salem's sake I will not rest until her righteousness go 
forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a 
lamp that burneth." From New York he crossed 
over to Long Island, and rode twenty miles to Hemp- 
stead Harbor, where he preached in the evening. 
The next day he preached in the paper-mill from the 
text, " If any man will do his will, he shall know the 
doctrine whether it be of God." On Monday he re- 
turned to New York, and preached in the evening 
from, ".They shall come from the East, and from the 
West, and from the North, and from the South, and 
sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob," etc. 
His division was as follows : "1. A Scriptural view 
of the kingdom of heaven. 2. The subjects or 
citizens thereof. 3. Sit down with Abraham, fa- 
mous for faith ; Isaac, for justice, truth, medita- 
tion, and walking with God"; and Jacob, mighty 
in prayer." 

This visit was during a time of trouble in the 
Church, and occasioned a great trial to Asbury, who 
spent half the night in prayer for patience and resig- 
nation. Even at that early day, as we find from 


Asbury's Journal, the Methodists had trouble about 
congregational singing. This has been a fruit- 
ful theme of difficulty and often of discord in the 
Church from the beginning, and is likely to remain 
so until, as with the Germans, singing becomes a 
part of our education, and all our members learn 
and love to sing. Until this is the case, all efforts to 
bring about congregational singing will prove to a 
great extent abortive. Tune hymn-books may be 
multiplied like the leaves of the summer forest, but 
they will fall as a dead letter without the knowledge 
and the love of song. 

From New York he went up the Hudson, preach- 
ing at different points on his route. Saturday, the 
16th of June, 1787, he crossed the mountains, 
and, to use his own language, " was gratified with 
the sight of a remarkable recess for the Americans 
during the last war. The names of Andre and 
Arnold, with which misfortune and treachery are so 
unhappily and intimately blended, will give celeb- 
rity to West Point had it been less deserving of 
notice than its wonderful appearance really makes it. 
It is commanded by mountains rising behind, and 
appears to be impregnable. On the east are block- 
houses, and on the west are stores, barracks, and 
fortifications." From West Point he crossed what 
he calls a high mountain, (Storm King,) and went to 
E"ewburgh. Four weeks from this time we find him, 



after traveling through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
and Virginia, at his favorite retreat, Bath. He 
visited the springs at this place for the purpose of 
availing himself of the medicinal virtue of the waters. 
During his stay there he delivered a course of lect- 
ures on the prophecies. 

Asbury was subject at times to great dejection of 
mind, and his spirit would often sink within him. 
He rarely had much elevation of feeling, and though 
he frequently preached with ease and comfort to 
himself, and had occasionally considerable liberty, 
yet his seasons of gloom, especially after preaching, 
were sometimes terrific. On one occasion, at Bath, 
he became completely discouraged at the indiffer- 
ence of the people, and entered the following in his 
Journal : " I had few to hear me, so I gave them up. 
I will return to my own studies. If the people are 
determined to go to hell, I am clear of their blood." 
Notwithstanding all this, there were occasions when 
he enjoyed remarkable manifestations. Once, while 
preaching at Burton's, in Virginia, from the text, 
" Behold what manner of love the Father hath be- 
stowed upon us that we should be called the sons of 
God," he says : " It seems as if I was let into heaven 
while enlarging upon this passage." 

At the annual Conference held in Uniontown, 
Pennsylvania, in 1787, the first ordination took place 
in the great valley of the Mississippi. The solemn 


and impressive ceremonies connected with the rite 
of ordination had never been witnessed before in 
that vast region extending from the Alleghanies to 
the Father of Waters. One of the pioneer preachers, 
then but a mere youth, thus describes the scene : 
"Mr. Asbuiy officiated, not in the costume of the 
lawn-robed prelate, but as the plain presbyter in 
gown and band, assisted by Richard Whatcoat, elder, 
in the same clerical habit. The person ordained was 
Michael Lord, of whom it was said that he could re- 
peat nearly the whole of the !N"ew Testament from 
memory, and also large portions of the Old. The 
scenes of that day looked well in the eyes of the 
Church people, for not only did the preachers appear 
in sacerdotal robes, but the morning service was read 
as abridged by Mr. Wesley. The priestly robes and 
prayer-book were, however, soon laid aside at the 
same time, for I never saw the one nor heard the 
other since." The presumption is, as we have no 
data from which to form an opinion, that the period 
of robes and reading prayers extended from the time 
of Asbury's ordination to the episcopacy until the 
year 1787 or 1788. 

About this time Asbury set himself to work to re- 
arrange the Discipline, and reduce it to a more sys- 
tematic form. The first edition of the Discipline was 
printed in Philadelphia in 1785, and is found bound 
up with the "Sunday Service and the Collection of 


Psalms and Hymns," which had been sent over to 
America in sheets. In 1786 a new edition of the 
whole was printed in London. In this the following 
questions, contained in the first edition, with their an- 
swers, are omitted : 

" Question 23. May our ministers or traveling 
preachers drink spirituous liquors ? 

"Answer. By no means, unless it be medicinally. 

" Question 42. What methods can we take to ex- 
tirpate slavery? 

"Answer. We are deeply conscious of the impro- 
priety of making new terms of communion for a re- 
ligious society already established, excepting on the 
most pressing occasion, and such we esteem the 
practice of holding our fellow-creatures in slavery. 
We view it as contrary to the golden law of God, on 
which hang all the law and the prophets, and the 
unalienable rights of mankind, as well as every 
principle of the Eevolution, to hold in the deep- 
est debasement, in a more abject slavery than is per- 
haps to be found in any part of the world except 
America, so many souls that are all capable of the 
image of God. 

" We therefore think it our most bounden duty to 
take immediately some effectual method to extirpate 
this abomination from among us, and for that pur- 
pose we add the following to the rules of our society, 
namely : 


" 1. Every member of our society who has slaves 
in his possession, shall, within twelve months after 
notice given to him by the assistant, (which notice 
the assistants are required immediately, and without 
any delay, to give in their respective circuits,) legally 
execute and record an instrument whereby he eman- 
cipates and sets free every slave in his possession 
who is between the ages of forty and forty-five imme- 
diately, or at farthest when they arrive at the age of 

" And every slave who is between the ages of 
twenty-five and forty immediately, or at farthest 
at the expiration of five years from the date of the 
said instrument. 

" And every slave who is between the ages of 
twenty and twenty-five immediately, or at farthest 
when they arrive at the age of thirty. 

" And every slave under the age of twenty, as soon 
as they arrive at the age of twenty-five at farthest. 

" And every infant born in slavery after the above- 
mentioned rules are complied with, immediately on 
its birth. 

"2. Every assistant shall keep a journal, in which 
he shall regularly minute down the names and ages 
of all the slaves belonging to all the masters in his 
respective cjrcuit, and also the date of every instru- 
ment executed and recorded for the manumission of 
the slaves, with the name of the court, book, and 


folio, in which the said instruments respectively 
shall have been recorded : which journal shall be 
handed down in each circuit to the succeeding 

"3. In consideration that these rules form a new 
term of communion, every person concerned, who 
will not comply with them, shall have liberty quietly 
to withdraw himself from our society within the 
twelve months succeeding the notice given as afore- 
said : otherwise the assistant shall exclude him in the 

" 4. ISTo person so voluntarily withdrawn, or so ex- 
cluded, shall ever partake of the supper of the Lord 
with the Methodists, till he complies with the above 

" 5. ^o person holding slaves shall, in future, be 
admitted into society or to the Lord's Supper, till he 
previously complies with these rules concerning 

" !N". B. These rules are to affect the members of 
our society no farther than as they are consistent 
with the laws of the states in which they reside. 

"And respecting our brethren in Virginia that are 
concerned, and after due consideration of their pecu- 
liar circumstances, we allow them two years from the 
notice given, to consider the expediency of compli- 
ance or non-compliance with these rules." 

Question 63 was also omitted. It reads as follows : 


" Are there any further directions needful for the 
preservation of good order among the preachers ? 

" Answer. In the absence of a superintendent, a 
traveling preacher or three leaders shall have power 
to lodge a complaint against any preacher in their 
circuit, whether elder, assistant, deacon, or helper, 
before three neighboring assistants ; who shall meet 
at an appointed time, (proper notice being given to 
the parties,) hear, and decide the case." And au- 
thority is given them to change or suspend a 
preacher, if they see it necessary, and to appoint 
another in his place, during the absence of the super- 

Also Question 64. "If there happen to be a va- 
cancy in a circuit by the death of a preacher, by his 
withdrawing himself from the work, or otherwise, in 
the absence of a superintendent, who are to fill up 
the vacancy ? 

" Answer. Three neighboring assistants, called and 
assembled according to the preceding minute." 

This was the last edition of the Discipline contain- 
ing the Sunday Service with the Psalms and Hymns. 

Asbury, assisted by Dickins, in the year 1T8T, as 
above-mentioned, made an entire revision of the Dis- 
cipline, by which he changed its form materially. 
Up to this time it was made up wholly of question 
and answer, with very little regard to method, but now 
Jt was divided into sections under appropriate chap- 


ter heads. This revised edition was submitted to Dr. 
Coke after his return from Europe, and meeting his 
approval it was sent to press. Mr. "Wesley's name 
was left out of this edition of the Discipline, and for 
the first time the term bishop was employed in the 
place of superintendent. No changes having been 
made the succeeding year a new edition was not 
necessary, but in the year 1789 the fifth edition ap- 
peared. It seems, however, that during the previous 
year Asbury had been employed in elaborating two 
new sections, namely, the thirty-first and thirty-second. 
To the new edition an address by the bishops was pre- 
fixed. To it were also added the Articles of Religion 
and certain doctrinal tracts. These, however, were 
not embodied, but printed separate and apart from 
the form of Discipline. It was not until 1796 that 
Asbury and Coke, in compliance with a resolution of 
the General Conference, prepared notes on all parts 
of the Discipline. In these notes everything is 
proved or illustrated by appropriate passages of 
Scripture. It must have cost great labor, and the 
manner in which the work was accomplished evinced 
a biblical research and a logical acumen rarely 
surpassed. It may be said with great truth and pro- 
priety, that the mind of Asbury was stamped upoii 
the genius and institutions of American Methodism 
as effectually as was that of Wesley upon English 
Methodism. From Charleston, South Carolina, 


where Conference was held in 1788, Asbury pro- 
ceeded on his tour to Georgia, where another Confer- 
ence was to be held. It was on this last route that 
he compiled the two sections of Discipline above 
alluded to. After attending Conference at the Forks 


of Broad Kiver, he pursued his way to North Carolina. 
The hardships he encountered in this journey were 
great. The reader may form some idea of the 
bishop's toils from the following : " After getting our 
horses shod we made a move for Holstein, and en- 
tered upon the mountains, the first of which I called 
Steel, the second Stone, and the third Iron mountain. 
They are rough and difficult to climb. We were 
spoken to on our way by most awful thunder and 
lightning, accompanied by heavy rain. We crept 
for shelter into a little dirty house, where the filth 
might have been taken from the floor with a spade. 
We felt the want of fire, but could get little wood to 
make it, and what we did get was wet. At the head 
of Wautawga we fed, and reached Ward's that night. 
Coming to the river next day we hired a young man 
to swim over for the canoe, in which we crossed, 
while our horses swam to the other shore. The 
waters being up, we were compelled to travel an old 
road over the mountains. Night came on. I was 
ready to faint with a violent headache, the mountain 
was so steep on both sides. I prayed to the Lord for 
help. Presently a profuse sweat broke out upon me, 


and my fever entirely subsided. About nine o'clock 
we came to Grear's. After taking a little rest here 
we set out next morning for Cox's, on Ilolstein River. 

o / 

I had trouble enough. Our route lay through the 
woods, and my pack-horse would neither follow, lead, 
nor drive, so fond was he of stopping to feed on the 
green herbage. I tried the lead and he pulled back. 
I tied his head up to prevent his grazing and he ran 
back. As the weather was excessively warm I was 
much fatigued, and my temper not a little tried. 
Arriving at the river I was at a loss what to do, but 
providentially a man came along who conducted me 
across." This, adds the bishop, "has been an awful 
journey to me, and this a tiresome day ; and now after 
riding seventy-five miles I have thirty-five more to 
travel before I can rest a day." 

After this journey he grieved considerably, on 
reviewing it, that he was not able to pray more on 
the road. The toils and hardships of Asbury in trav- 
eling round the continent can never be fully known. 
But a short time after the journey above described 
we find an entry in his Journal of another quite as 
full of incident. He says : " We had to cross the 
Alleghany Mountains again at a bad passage. Our 
course lay over mountains and through valleys, and 
the mud and mire was such as might scarcely be ex- 
pected even in December. We came to an old for- 
saken habitation in Tygart's Yalley. Here our horses 


grazed about while we boiled our meat. Midnight 
brought us up at Jones's, after traveling between 
forty and fifty miles. The old man our host was 
kind enough to wake us up at four o'clock in the morn- 
ing. "We journeyed on through devious lonely wilds, 
where no food might be found except what grew in 
the woods or was carried with us. We met two 
women, who were going to see their friends, and to 
attend the quarterly meeting at Clarksburg. ISTear 

midnight we stopped at A 's, who hissed his dogs 

at us ; but the women were determined to go to quar- 
terly meeting ; so we journeyed on. Brothers Phoe- 
bus and Cook took to the woods ; old gave up 

his bed to the women ; I lay on a few deer skins on 
the floor. That night our poor horses got no corn, 
and next morning they had to swim across the Mo- 
nongahela. After a twenty miles' ride we came to 
Clarksburg, and man and beast were so outdone that 
it took us ten hours to accomplish the journey. I 
lodged with Colonel Jackson. Our meeting: was held 

o o 

in a long close room belonging to the Baptists, and 
our use of the house gave oifense. There attended 
about seven hundred people, to whom I preached 
with freedom, and I believe the Lord's power reached 
the hearts of some. After administering the sacrament 
I was well satisfied to leave. We rode thirty miles 
to father Haymond's, after three o'clock Sunday 
afternoon, and made it nearly eleven before we came 


in. About midnight we went to rest, and rose at five 
o'clock the next morning. My mind has been se- 
verely tried both by the fatigue endured by myself 
and my horse. O how glad I should be of a plain 
clean plank to lie on as preferable to the beds ; and 
where the beds are in a bad state the floors are worse. 
The gnats are almost as troublesome here as the 
mosquitoes in the lowlands of the seaboard. The 
people of this country are many of them of the bold- 
est cast of adventurers, and with some the decencies 
of civilized life are scarcely regarded, two instances 
of which I mvself witnessed. The great landholders 


who are industrious will soon show the effects of the 
aristocracy of wealth by lording it over poor neigh- 
bors, and by securing to themselves all the offices of 
profit and honor. On the one hand savage warfare 
teaches them to be cruel, and on the other the preach- 
ing of Antinomians poisons them with error in doc- 
trine ; good moralists they are not, and good Christians 
they cannot be unless they are better taught." 

While in Virginia he wrote a letter to a Quaker 
in Delaware, which is so characteristic of the man 
we insert it. 

"NEWTOX, YA., Seventh Month, 1790. 

; ' MY YERY DEAR FRIEND, If I have a partiality 
for any people in the world except the Methodists, 
it is for the Quakers, so called. Their plainness of 
dress, their love of justice and truth, their friendship 


to each other, and the care they take of one another, 
render them worthy of praise. 

" Would it not be of use for that society that make 
it a point not to come near any others, whether good 
or bad, to try all means within themselves ? Would 
it not be well, thinkest thou, for them to sit every 
night and morning, and, if they find liberty, to go to 
prayer after reading a portion of God's word? As 
epistles are read from the Friends, would it not be 
well to introduce the reading of some portion of the 
Scriptures at public meetings ? Would it not be well 
to have a congregation and a society an outward 
and an inward court ? In the former let children and 
servants, and unawakened people come ; in the in- 
ward let mourners in Zion come. 

"The Presbyterians have reformed ; the Episcopali- 
ans and the Methodists; why should not the Friends ? 
It was a dark time one hundred and fifty years back. 
We are near the edge of the wilderness. If this inward 
court or society were divided into small bands or 
classes, and to be called together weekly by men and 
women of the deepest experience, and appointed for 
that work, and asked about their souls and the deal- 
ings of God with them, and to join in prayer, one or 
two or all of them that have freedom, I think the Lord 
would come upon them. 

" I give this advice as the real friend of your souls, 
as there are hundreds and thousands that never have 


nor will come near others. These might get more 
religion if your pi-<>ple were to hear others; they 
miijht get properly awakened, and if you had close 
meetings for speaking they would not leave you. 
You must not think that G. Fox and R. Barclay were 
the only men in the world. I am sure there must be 
a reform, if you could move it in quarterly and 
yearly meetings for family and society meetings, and 
adopt rules for these meetings ! 

" Would it not be well, thinkest thou, to preach 
against covetousness ? God has blessed Friends ; they 
are a temperate, industrious, and frugal people. Tell 
them to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the 
sick, and always feel for the spirit of prayer at such 
times. Would it not be well to deliver a testimony 
at other places, if Friends felt freedom, and allow 
others to come into their meetings without forbidding 
them? Our houses are open to any that come in a 
Christian spirit. 

"I wish Methodists and Friends would bear a stron- 
ger testimony against races, fairs, plays, and balls ; I 
wish they would reprove swearing, lying, and foolish 
talking; watch their young people in their companies; 
instruct them in the doctrines of Christ ; call upon 
them to feel after the spirit of prayer, morning and 
evening, and strive to bring them to God ! If I know 
my own heart, I write from love to souls ; and although 
it is the general cry, ' You can do nothing with these 


people,' I wish to lay before you these things, which 
I think are not contrary to the ancient principles of 
Friends, and I am sure that we are taught them in 
the word of God. Think upon them. My soul pities 
and loves you. You may fight against God in not 
inculcating these things. 

"I arn, with real friendship to thee and thy people, 


As a true pioneer, Asbury had for some time con- 
templated a tour to what was then denominated the 
great Western wilderness. Already following the 
trail of the hunter, and the blazed path of the settler, 
Asbury's missionaries had penetrated the deep, un- 
broken forests, and had borne the messages of salva- 
tion to the camps and cabins in the canebrakes of 
Kentucky. Poythress, a heroic pioneer of the cross, 
wrote to the bishop, entreating him to visit the 
scattered sheep in the wiMerness. Having got all 
things in readiness, he started with his traveling com- 
panions upon his long and perilous journey. After 
passing over the mountain they crossed Holstein 
River, and following its bank down, after a fatiguing 
journey reached a cabin, where they halted, and 
turned out their horses to graze. The owner of the 
house was in quest of horses which had been stolen by 
the Indians. After waiting at this point for a renewal 
of their forces before entering fully upon the wilder- 


ness, they felt somewhat invigorated for their future 
jniiriu-v. AVliilc passing through the valley of the 
Jlolstein they preached at the different stopping 
places on their route. At length they crossed Clinch 
River, passing over a wild rocky road until they came 
to Moccasin Gap, where the party were joined by 
AEassie and Clark, two noted western hunters, who 
came to inform them of a Kentucky guard of eight 
men waiting to escort them through the wilder- 
ness. At the valley station the whole number as- 
sembled was eighteen men with thirteen guns. Thus 
armed they moved on, making from thirty- five to 
fifty miles a day. Crossing Hock Castle River they 
stopped at the house of a gentleman whose wife had 
been taken captive by the Indians. The fatigues 
connected with the journey over mountains, steep 
hills, deep rivers, through interminable canebrakes 
inhabited by nothing but wild beasts and savages, 
attended with want of sleep and fasting for want of 
food, wore heavily upon Asbury, but his tireless spirit 
quailed not. On their route they passed a deserted 
camp where the Indians had killed twenty-four white 
men. A woman of the company, wife of one of the 
victims, made her escape. On the route they were 
pursued by Indians, but the members of the company 
and their means of defense kept them at bay. 
Finally the party reached Lexington, where Asbury 
preached in a dwelling-house. The Conference was 


held in a private house, and consisted of nine 
preachers. Among other business transacted was 
the ordination of Wilson Lee, Thomas Williamson, 

j 7 

and Barnabas M'Henry. After visiting several other 
places in Kentucky the bishop started on his return 
track. The company consisted of fifty persons, 
twenty-five of whom were armed. Articles of agree- 
ment for the government of the company were drawn 
up and signed. The first day's travel brought them 
to the Hazel Patch ; the next day they discovered 
signs of Indians, and they judged it best not to en- 
camp, but travel all night ; and the following day 
they reached the Cumberland Gap, at the foot of 
which the company separated, Asbury's party pro- 
ceeding on to Grass Valley. 

The next Conference was held in Petersburg, Vir- 
ginia, where the business was conducted with peace 
and harmony, until, as Asbury remarks in his Jour- 
nal, the subject of the bishop's council was intro- 
duced, and then " the young men, who appeared to 
be entirely under the influence of the elders, turned it 
out of doors." The discussions on this subject were 
exceedingly vexatious to Asbury, and he remarks : 
" This business is to be explained to every preacher, 
and then it must be carried through the Conferences 
twenty-four times, that is, through all the Conferen- 
ces for two years." Kestless spirits had arisen who 

looked with envy upon Asbury, and were dissatisfied 



with his exercise of episcopal prerogative. The 
bishop had received a letter from O'Kelly, a pre- 
siding elder of Brunswick District, who made heavy 
complaints, and threatened to use his influence against 
him. In reply to this Ashury says : " There is not a 
vote given in the Conference in which the presiding 
elder has not greatly the advantage of me. All the 
influence I am to gain over a company of young men 
in a district must be done in three weeks ; the greater 
part of them perhaps are seen by me only at Confer- 
ence, while the presiding elder has had them with 
him all the year, and has the greatest opportunity of 
gaining influence. This advantage may be abused ; 
let the bishops look to it ; but who has power to lay 
an embargo on me, and to make of none effect the 
decision of all the Conferences of the Union ?" 

To conciliate the disaffected, at one time Asbury 
addressed them a letter, saying: "I will take my 
seat in council as another member, and in that point 
at least waive the claims of episcopacy ; yea, I will lie 
down and be trodden upon rather than injure one soul." 

If any man could be trusted with power safely it was 
Asbury. ISTo man exercised it with greater discre- 
tion. He had given form and character to American 
Methodism, and had shown himself from his first 
landing in the country, by all his acts as assistant, 
superintendent, and bishop, an American in heart and 
life, identifying himself with every interest of the 


Church and the country, resisting stoutly every En- 
glish prejudice that showed itself among the preach- 
ers, and making every sacrifice for the welfare of the 
Church. He was keenly sensitive to all attacks, and 
perhaps more careful than necessary to vindicate 
himself. While suffering from unjust insinuations in 
relation to his motives and acts, he wrote to Dick- 
ins, the book steward, at Philadelphia, as follows : 

VERY DEAR BROTHER, As life with me now is 
a greater uncertainty than heretofore, I am concerned 
to communicate these few lines to the public, not 
doubting but they w r ill give information and satisfac- 
tion to the candid and conscientious. It may be 
thought by those who measure others by themselves, 
that I have gained much honor, ease, power, and in- 
terest in my station in the Church of God. Nay, I 
have lived upon the providence of God and the 
charity of a few friends. My method for many years 
has been to keep an account of what has been given 
me without solicitation. I have also kept an account 
of what I have expended annually, charging the con- 
nection with my salary of sixty-four dollars per year 
and my traveling expenses, as another preacher. 
When I have wanted a horse or carriage my friends 
have provided for me. My friends in Maryland, 
Delaware, Philadelphia, Jersey, and New York have 
chiefly communicated this supply. As to Virginia or 


the Carolinas, (except in a few extraordinary cases,) 
as also Georgia, and the Western and Eastern states, I 
have visited them, taking nothing unless in extreme 
want on my side, or in the great benevolence of my 
friends on the other. As to the college, it was all 
pain and no profit, but some expense and great labor. 
From the Preachers' Fund the Conferences can wit- 
ness for me I have taken nothing. Of the book inter- 
est you can witness I have received nothing. Of the 
Chartered Fund I am independent, and wish to keep 
so. Of money brought to Conference, or collected 
publicly at times, it has been appropriated with the 
nicest equality to the wants and deficiencies of the 
preachers, but not any to me. You have settled my 
annual accounts and have the book charge. Brother 
Nelson Reed will do me the justice I demand, he 
having had the settling of the college books and my 
accounts. Brothers T. Morrell and Philip Bruce 
have had a most intimate acquaintance with my tem- 
poral affairs, and the inspection of my yearly ac- 
counts ; yet after all I must die, to prove, by my last 
will and testament, that I have not made my gain by 
the Gospel of Christ. And should I die as poor as I 
have lived, it will be said by suspicious, ungenerous 
men that I have made appropriations in my lifetime. 
I shall call upon the Conferences, John Dickins, Nel- 
son Reed, and Thomas Morrell, as witnesses to the 
truth of what I have written, as a debt of duty and of 


love they owe me, who am their brother and com- 
panion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. 


The following is Dickins's reply to the above : 

" As Mr. Asbury is pleased in the above letter to call 
upon me, as well as a few other persons, to testify to 
the truth of what he has written, it is with the great- 
est cheerfulness that I comply with his request. 
Both from a sense of duty and respect, I now declare 
in the most solemn manner that Mr. Asbury lias 
never received any money from the book fund, nor 
ever dropped the most distant hint to my knowledge 
of desiring or expecting anything either from that 
fund or from the Charter Fund. And further, I have 
frequently settled his book and private accounts, in 
which I have always found that he has charged him- 
self with the donations of his friends, or whatever 
money he has received, and credited himself with 
nothing but twenty-four pounds a year and his travel- 
ing expenses, and at the close of the year the balance 
has been carried to the proper side of a new account 
for another year. And when he left this city last he 
had not money enough to bear his expenses for one 
month. I shall conclude with adding, that from my 
long and intimate acquaintance with him I think I 
never knew so disinterested a man as Mr. Asbury." 
To those acquainted with Asbury all this was en- 


tirely superfluous ; and yet, to put to silence the 
clamors of envy and suspicion, it perhaps was proper 
that he should give such an expose in detail of his 
private affairs. Asbury had nothing to conceal, for 
though apparently secretive and unapproachable, he 
was transparent as the calm, quiet lake that reveals 
all that lies within its depths. 

In the year 1789 Jesse Lee introduced Methodism 
into the land of the pilgrims. It is said by one of 
his coternporaries that he possessed uncommon con- 
versational powers, and a pleasing, fascinating ad- 
dress, which at once prepossessed all with whom he 
met most favorably. His wit and readiness at repar- 
tee were not excelled by any, and so skillfully did he 
use this two-edged instrument that he often taught 
those disposed to be witty at the expense of a Meth- 
odist preacher that this dangerous weapon was all 
potent in his hands. He possessed the elements es- 
sential to make up a pioneer itinerant in an eminent 
degree. To great moral courage was united a well- 
tempered zeal, which nerved him, and impelled him 
onward through the most forbidding obstacles and 
the most trying labors. There was a naturalness and 
consequent ease and grace about his preaching that 
rendered him one of the most efficient ministers of 
his day. He opened his mission in the land of the 
Puritans first at Xorwalk. From thence he visited 
New Haven and Boston, the very seat and citadel of 


the Puritan faith. He had been in all parts of the 
country, and had preached the Gospel in the far 
South among the earliest pioneers. Not being able 
to obtain a house to preach in, he went out to Boston 
Common, and beneath the wide-spreading branches 
of a venerable elm which stands to this day, and with 
a melody for which the preachers of that day were 
famous, sang together a large congregation. One 
who was present on the occasion thus describes the 
scene which followed : " I thought the prayer was the 
best I ever heard. He then read his text, and began 
in a sententious manner to address his remarks to the 
understanding and consciences of the people, and I 
thought all who were present must be constrained to 
say ' It is good for us to be here.' All the while the 
people were gathering he continued this mode of ad- 
dress, and presented us with such a variety of beauti- 
ful images that I thought he must have been at infi- 
nite pains to crowd so many pretty things into his 
memory. But when he entered upon the subject- 
matter of his text, it was w r ith such an easy, natural 
flow of expression, and in such a tone of voice, that I 
could not refrain from weeping, and many others 
were affected in the same way. When he had done 
and we had an opportunity of expressing our views to 
each other, it was agreed that such a man had not 
visited E"ew England since the days of Whitefield. I 
heard him again, and thought I could follow him to 


the ends of the earth." But this was not the first 
Methodist sermon that was preached in Boston. 
More than a half century before Charles "Wesley had 
] (reached several times, being driven into Boston 
harbor by a crazy craft commanded by a drunken 
captain. One of the churches in which he preached 
at that time stands to this day. 

From the time that the fearless and indefati- 
gable Lee opened his mission on that memorable 
spot until the present, his name has been a household 
word in the family of Xew England Methodism. 
"We do not intend by this to be understood as de- 
signing to convey the impression that his labors were 
of a sectional character, much less that his memory 
is not equally cherished among all the branches of 
the Methodist family in this country. The preachers 
of those days, like their bishop, were general itiner- 
ants, circulating, like the life-blood of the human sys- 
tem, from the center to all the extremities of the land. 
One year among the Puritans of the ISTorth, and the 
next with the cavaliers of the South, the very sys- 
tem of itinerancy forbade the indulgence of any sec- 
tional views or prejudices. With them the whole 
human family was one, but more particularly the 
people composing the confederacy where they 
labored. The name of Jesse Lee was dear to every 
Methodist, and with those of his brave and honored 
associates will go down to posterity garnered with 


the most precious things of Methodist history. The 
following letter from Lee to Asbury, written from 
New Haven in 1T90, was published recently by the 
Baltimore Historical Society. It is full of interest, 
especially as it relates to his labors in New England. 

" MY DEAR BROTHER, I received your letter from 
Petersburgh. I was glad to hear from you that 
you. are safely preserved under all your troubles 
and from all your enemies. I have enjoyed good 
health of late, and have reason to bless God that 
I have not wickedly departed from him. Though 
I live to but little purpose, I must own that my 
poor heart is engaged in the work of the Lord ; 
and I still desire to devote my whole soul and body 
to his service ; and in the midst of all my troubles I 
can say, 'The Lord is my portion.' 

" I expect you will be glad to hear of the work of 
the Lord, and the opening prospect we have in New 
England. We have formed three circuits ; one is a 
four weeks' and the others two weeks' circuits, but the 
latter may be enlarged as soon as preachers can be 
procured. "We have seven or eight societies in one 
of them, and one in the next circuit. In the last one 
which we formed we have no society yet, but there 
are several persons who intend to cast their lot 
among us. In these circuits we have large congre- 
gations and many real friends. Many people fall in 


with our doctrines about election and reprobation as 
soon as they hear them; but they do not agree with 
us about the perseverance of the saints. Neverthe- 
less they suppose the doctrine, as we preach it, is 
innocent. In most places they desire to hear our 

" I have lately taken a tour as far as Portsmouth, 
the metropolis of New Hampshire. I preached in 
most of the large sea-ports and cities to large con- 
gregations, and in the most of them I was solicited 
to return. I cannot tell what you may think of the 
liberty I took in going so far, but I felt so much of 
the power and presence of God in preaching to the 
people that I believe I shall never repent that I 
went. When I got to Boston I could get no house 
to preach in ; but believing God had sent me, I told 
the people that I would preach on the Common at 
six o'clock on Sunday evening, at which time I sup- 
pose I had one thousand serious hearers. The next 
week I went further east, preached twice in Marble- 
head, three times in Salem, once in Danvers, twice 
in Newburyport, where I saw the remains of Mr. 
G. Whitefield, and once in Portsmouth. This week I 
rode one hundred and thirty miles, made my own 
appointments, preached nine times, returned to Bos- 
ton, and preached on Sunday afternoon on the Com- 
mon to three thousand hearers. The next week I 
spent in Boston. I preached in a Baptist meeting- 


house once, three times in private houses, and on the 
Sabbath on the Common to five thousand hearers. 

" I feel attached to the Bostonians. I found sev- 
eral who once belonged to our society. A number 
pressed me to return, if possible, before our next Con- 
ference, when they hope and pray that a preacher 
may be sent to them. Boston is a large place ; the 
people are much divided in their religious senti- 
ments, and I have no doubt but that in three months 
I could have a steady congregation. To-morrow I 
expect to set out for that town again, and to spend 
eight or nine days in it before I return. I shall do 
all I can for the reception of a preacher, and do hope 
that you will send an acceptable one from the Mary- 
land Conference. If possible, get a volunteer who 
loves the cause of God. If he comes willingly, he 
will bear his cross with greater courage. If a 
preacher can be fixed there now, the way will soon 
be opened in the country around there. They have 
seventeen houses for public worship in the town and 
eight or ten more in sight of it." 

Jesse Lee was the first historian of the Methodist 
Church, and was eminently fitted for the work of a 
pioneer. Such were his influence and standing in the 
country that for several years he served as chaplain 
to Congress, commanding the respect of men of Revo- 
lutionary times, and sustaining throughout the dig- 
nity of his vocation and office. 


This year Asbury received the following letter 
from Poythress, presiding elder of the Kentucky 
District, in relation to the work in that region : 

" MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, I have heard many 
souls cry out for mercy, and many have entered into 
life ; I suppose not less than two hundred at our com- 
mon meetings. There is a general revival through 
my district. At our last quarterly meeting we had, 
it was supposed, seven hundred souls. I believe 
Methodism will take root in the western country. 
Upward of twenty professed to emerge out of dark- 
ness into the marvelous light of the Gospel, and 
many more cried aloud to God for mercy. It is 
remarkable that this savage land has become a land 
of praise to God. 

"A very remarkable circumstance happened in 
Lexington circuit, namely : On the 28th of June 
Brother "W. Lee preached at Coleinan's chapel ; there 
was a great appearance of the power of God. One 
of S.'s daughters was struck under conviction. It 
was thought in a few days that God delivered her 
from her burden of sin. As she was her father's 
favorite daughter, it was thought that he would not 
be willing that she should join the Methodist society. 
She went with her sister to sweep out the chapel. 
As soon as she went in, her sister says she went out, 
and a little time after returned and went up to the 


pulpit, stood before it, appeared very awful, and 
dropped down dead, which was exactly four weeks 
from the day that she was first awakened, and it 
was in the same house that she gave her soul to God. 
He took her from the evil to come, and we have no 
doubt but that she is now praising him in paradise. 

" O my dear father, I think that I am as willing to 
suffer for my dear Master as you are. I believe that 
you feel much for the rising generation in America. 
May God bless you with a long and useful life, and 
success in all your labors ! 

"The Indians are still doing mischief. "Not far 
from the first house you came to after you passed 
through the wilderness, they killed seven men and 
wounded one. They went to a house near Bourbon 
court-house, ripped open the beds, and plundered 
the house. The women and children happily made 
their escape. O when will the Lord Christianize the 
savage tribes ! May he hasten the happy moment!" 

Poythress was among the noble band of Western 
pioneers who planted the Gospel in the Western wil- 
derness. His name and memory w T ill be cherished 
as long as Methodism is known. He and his associ- 
ates in the ministry stamped their character upon the 
wild and widely-scattered population of the West, 
and through their toils it was made to " bud and 
blossom like the rose." 



Doctrine of Celibacy Apostolic Injunction Asbury's Eeasonsfor Celi- 
bacy Other Eeasons His Opinion of Dr. Coke's Marriage Singu- 
lar Beinark about the Women and the Devil Dialogue on Marriage 
Asbury and the Young Lady Devotion to his Mother Beautiful 
Tribute to her Memory. 

THE doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy finds no 
countenance in the inspired word. The priests of the 
Jewish Church were not only not forbidden to marry 
but had wives and children. The solitary instance of 
Paul, who was careful to say that he spoke without 
Divine authority on the subject, and was only 
prompted to speak as he did on account of the neces- 
sities of the case, furnishes no warrant to the Chris- 
tian Church to prohibit its ministers from marrying. 
The injunction of the apostle to the ministers of the 
ISTew Testament, sanctioned by his own example, to 
form no matrimonial alliances, was specific in its na- 
ture, and grew out of, and was adapted to the exi- 
gency of the times. It was considered, on account of 
" the present distress," not expedient for those whose 
duty it was to " preach the Gospel to every creature," 
and who were constantly exposed to privation, per- 
secution, and death, to enter into the married 
state. The reasons which governed Asbury in 


the course lie pursued in this respect are best stated 
by himself: 

" If I should die in celibacy, which I think quite 
probable, I give the following reasons for what can 
scarcely be called my choice. I was called to preach 
in my fourteenth year. I began my public exercises 
between sixteen and seventeen. At twenty-one I en- 
tered the traveling connection. At twenty-six I came 
to America. Thus far I had reasons enough for a 
single life. It had been my intention to return to 
Europe, but the war continued, and it was ten 
years before we had settled, lasting peace. This was 
no time to marry or be given in marriage. At forty- 
nine I was ordained Superintendent or Bishop in 
America. Among the duties imposed upon me by 
my office was that of traveling extensively, and I 
could hardly expect to find a woman with grace 
enough to enable her to live but one week out of the 
fifty-two with her husband ; besides, what right has 
any man to take advantage of the affections of a 
woman, make her his wife, and by voluntary absence 
subvert the whole order and economy of the marriage 
state by separating those whom neither God, nature, 
or the requirements of civil society permit long to be 
put asunder. It is neither just nor generous. I may 
add to this that I had but little money, and with this 
little I administered to the necessities of a beloved 
mother till I was fifty-seven. If I have done wrong 


I hope God and the sex will forgive me. It is my 
duty now to bestow the pittance I have to spare upon 
the widows and fatherless girls and poor married 


But there were other reasons. In addition to the 
support of an aged mother out of his pittance of sal- 
ary, amounting to sixty-four dollars, he had the Book 
Concern on his shoulders, and all he could raise for 
the publication fund was sent to Dickins, the book 
agent at Philadelphia, to enable him to enlarge the 
Concern and increase the number of Methodist books. 
His interest in this establishment was lasting as life, 
and in his last hours he bore it in affectionate re- 
membrance. Some of his friends having bequeathed 
to him two thousand dollars, he made it all over to 
the Book Concern in his last will and testament. 
Besides, he had to look after poor preachers and the 
missionaries he had sent out to the frontier settle- 
ments in the "West. He often impoverished himself 
to relieve their wants. At one time we find him 
with only two dollars in the world, and his poor 
preachers ragged and destitute. First his little purse 
was drained, and then followed his cloak, and watch, 
and shirt. Under such circumstances it is perfectly 
obvious that neither he nor any of his traveling com- 
panions in the ministry had any need for wives. 
Had they taken them they would have been " worse 
than infidels," because they would have placed 


themselves in a position where it would have been 
impossible to " provide for them." Those who did 
marry while they were in the traveling connection 
did so with the full conviction that they would 
not receive a support from the Church, and hence 
they almost invariably located after getting married. 
Many talented and useful ministers were thus lost to 
the Church, at least their influence and usefulness 
were greatly contracted. On receiving a letter from 
Dr. Coke, communicating the intelligence of his mar- 
riage and the probability of his not returning to this 
country only on certain conditions, Asbury said : 
" Marriage is honorable in all, but to me it is a cere- 
mony awful as death. Well may it be so, when I 
calculate we have lost the traveling labors of two 
hundred of the best men in America or the world by 
marriage and consequent location." 

In a work recently published, containing " Sketches 
of Early Times in Middle Tennessee," we find the fol- 
lowing : 

" In Virginia there was a circuit where the preach- 
ers sent among the people almost always obtained 
wives during their service. The bishop, supposing 
the women should be blamed for this state of things, 
thought to forestall them by sending to the circuit 
two decrepit old men, in the belief that no one would 
try to allure them into the bonds of wedlock. But, 

to his surprise, both of them married during the year, 



and upon hearing the result of his experiment he re- 
marked, ' I am afraid the women and the devil will 
get all my preachers.' 

The following dialogue occurred between Asbury 
and one of his preachers stationed in Baltimore. 
The preacher, in accordance with the instructions of 
the Discipline requiring him to consult his brethren 
before taking such a step, sought an interview with 
the bishop : 

" How old are you ?" said Asbury. 

" Twenty-eight years." 

" That is the proper age for a Methodist preacher 
to take that important step. How long have you 
been in the work ?" 

" Four years." 

" Then you have elder's orders ?" 

" Yes, sir." 

" All this is proper. When men enter their proba- 
tion they have ministerial characters to form, and 


ministerial talents to exhibit, to the satisfaction of the 
Church. Prudence says that they ought to form 
that character, and exhibit those talents, before they 
take that important step. But few novices have min- 
isterial weight sufficient to justify them in bringing 
the expense of a wife and family on the Church. 
The people will feel, and they will make the men 
feel ; and the dear sister of sixteen will feel too. 
Besides, in green age, men do not always select such 


women as the apostle says the wives of deacons and 
elders must be, such as may be wholesome examples 
for the flock of Christ. " "Well, how now ? locate ?" 

" No, sir ; that is not my intention." 

" Very well ; I should suppose your call was not 
out. Some men marry fortunes, and go to take care 
of them ; some men marry wives, and go to make 
fortunes for them ; and thus, when, for the time, we 
should have age and experience in the ministry, we 
have youth and inexperience ; and such have charge ; 
this, not of choice, but necessity. "We must do the 
best we can." 

On one of his continental tours, while stopping at 
a place in the West, Asbury had an appointment 
some miles distant in a portion of the country where 
he had never been before, and there was danger of 

' Cl 

his missing his way and getting lost in the woods. 
One of the daughters of the gentleman at whose 
house he stopped proposed to accompany him, and 
pioneer him through the wilderness. He did not 
positively decline the offer of the fair guide, though 
it would have suited his notions better to have gone 
alone if he even had missed his way. The luxury of 
a carriage at that time, at least in that section, was 
not known ; indeed if they had possessed them they 
would have been of no use, as there were no roads, 
nothing but blind or blazed paths. The only modes 
of travel were on foot or on horseback. 


The horses were soon in readiness for the travelers. 
The bishop was in his saddle, and with a celerity for 
which the Western girls were famous in early times, 
Mary sprang to the back of her spirited steed and 
was at once by his side. Soon they entered the forest 
and were lost to sight in its deep thickets. Mary 
knew the route and led the way. When about half 
the distance had been passed over the travelers came 
to a deep but narrow ravine, whose rugged, precipi- 
tous banks seemed to forbid a passage. The bishop 
at beholding it felt relieved, as he thought he had 
arrived at a Rubicon which his fair companion could 
not pass. Spurring his noble horse, w T hose strength 
and speed had never failed him, he cleared the ravine 
at a bound. Turning on his horse he congratulated 
himself that he was now rid of what he felt rather an 
incumbrance, as he had considerable qualms of con- 
science about going to the appointment, where he 
was a stranger, in company with a young lady. He 
was about bidding her good-by, with the exclama- 
tion, " Mary you can't do that," a most unhappy sug- 
gestion for him to make to a proud, spirited, fearless 
Western girl. Her quick and familiar response was, 
"I'll try, Frank," and suiting the action to the 
word horse and rider were in a moment at his side. 
Faithful to her task, she accompanied the bishop to 
the end of his journey, and after the preaching was 
over returned with him to her father's house. 


We never heard of any scandal resulting from this 

Asbury, as we have seen, did not, like Loyola and 
his followers, take the vow of celibacy, though he 
lived and died an unmarried man. His deep devo- 
tion to his affectionate mother, who depended upon 
him for a support, and for whose sake alone he 
adopted a prudence in secreting himself at Judge 
White's in time of the war, which, under other cir- 
cumstances, would have led him to brave a martyr's 
fate, perhaps prompted him to repress all those nat- 
ural desires which would have led him to seek a 


companion and help proper for him. Beyond his 
dear venerated mother he had nothing in this world 
to love or live for but the Church. To be sure he 
loved the latter more, as for its sake he left father, 
and mother, and home, and friends, and country to 
come to a land of strangers to preach the everlasting 
Gospel. His beautiful and touching tribute to the 
memory of his mother shows that he had a heart full 
of sympathy and affection : 

" For fifty years her hands, her house, and her 
heart were open to receive the people of God and the 
ministers of Christ, and thus a lamp was lighted up 
in a dark place. She was an afflicted yet most active 
woman, of quick bodily powers and masculine under- 
standing nevertheless, so kindly all the elements 
mixed in her, Her strong mind quickly felt the sub- 


cluing influences of that Christian sympathy which 
' weeps with those who weep,' and c rejoices with those 
who rejoice.' As a woman and a wife she was re- 
fined, modest, and blameless ; as a mother above all 
the women in the world would I claim her for my 
own ardently affectionate. As a mother in Israel 
few of her sex have done more by personal labor to 
support the Gospel and to wash the saints' feet. As 
a friend, she was generous, true, and constant." 



Previous Reference to Institutions of Learning Asbury lays the Foun- 
dation of the Book Concern Founder of the Methodist Missions to 
Frontier Settlements Founder of the Chartered Fund Founder of 
American Sabbath Schools Benevolent Institutions the Outgrowth of 
the Church Asbury a Bible Distributer The Sunday School System 
incorporated with the Discipline Asbury's Comments Preached on 
the Subject of Education Name of Francis Asbury given to Children 
Remembered in his Will Affectionate Regard for the Young Or- 
ganization of District Schools His Plan Its Importance An inter- 
esting Sketch. 

WE have already seen the relation sustained by 
Asbury to Methodist institutions of learning; how 
he originated them, raised funds by personal appli- 
cation and effort all over the country for their foun- 
dation and endowment, acting as founder and agent, 
and superintending their management, while at the 
same time he was constantly engaged in traveling 
annually around the continent, preaching at all times 
and in all places. Following in the footsteps of 
Wesley, who early devised a literature for the Meth- 
odist people, we find this indefatigable man laying 
the foundation of a Book Concern, and raising funds 
for its establishment and support. 

In 1787 Asbury made the following reference to 
the Book Concern : " The last section in the Disci- 
pline reads as follows : As it has been frequently 
recommended by the preachers and people that 


such books as are wanted be printed in this coun- 
try, we therefore propose: 1. That the advice of the 
Conference shall be desired concerning any valuable 
impression, and their consent be obtained before any 
steps be taken for the printing thereof; 2. That the 
profit of the books, after all the necessary expenses 
have been paid, shall be applied according to the 
discretion of the Conference toward the college, the 
Preachers' Fund, the deficiencies of the preachers, 
the distant missions, or the debts on our churches." 

At that time the principal part of the printing busi- 
ness was carried on in Philadelphia. In 1804 it was 
removed to New York. It was first located in John- 
street, and then successively in Pearl-street, Church- 
street, Catharine-street, and Crosby-street, and finally, 
in 1830, it was removed to Mulberry- street, the site it 
now occupies. 

Asbury was also the father of missions in the Meth- 
odist Church, sending out preachers into destitute set- 
tlements, and soliciting here and there all over the 
country funds for their support. In addition to this a 
plan for a fund for the relief of the preachers was 
devised by him and carried out, which resulted in a 
Chartered Fund that exists to this day. 

In an early day Bishop Asbury established a 
fund which was called afterward " The Asbury Mite 
Fund," and carried with him in his pocket a small 
subscription-book in which was inserted the names 


of subscribers. This fund was afterward denominated 
the " Preachers' Fund," and several hundred dollars 
were obtained. Rev. John Dickins succeeded in hav- 
ing this fund increased, and such was the result that in 
1797 the Legislature of Pennsylvania granted a char- 
ter under the style and title of " The Trustees of the 
Fund for the Belief and Support of the Itinerant 
Superannuated Ministers and Preachers of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church in the United States of Amer- 
ica, their Wives and Children, "Widows and Orphans." 
The most of this was subscribed in Philadelphia. 
Considerable was derived from various other sources, 
and the amount was subsequently increased bj 
legacies. The whole sum was nearly twenty-five 
thousand dollars. Loans of money from time to time 
were made from this fund to enable the Book Con- 
cern to carry on its business. Its proceeds are still 
regularly divided among the Conferences. 

Wesley himself never devised and carried into 
execution so many plans of benevolence in connec- 
tion with his societies as did Asbury for the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. JSTor was this all. He was 
the first man on the Continent to introduce Sabbath 
schools. In the year 1786, five years before any 
other person moved in this matter, he organized a 
school in Hanover county, Virginia, in the house of 
Thomas Crenshaw, and, as one of its first fruits, John 
Charleston was converted to God in that school , and 


afterward became a useful and successful minister of 
the Gospel in the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

In Asbury's Journal, vol. ii, p. 63, we find the 
following : " The school for the charity boys in 
Georgia greatly occupies my mind: our annual ex- 
penditure will amount to two hundred pounds, and 
the aid we get is but trifling ; the poverty of the 
people, and the general scarcity of money, is the 
great source of our difficulties ; the support of our 
preachers who have families absorbs our collections, 
so that neither do our elders nor the charity school 
get much. We have the poor, but they have no 
money; and the worldly, wicked rich we do not 
choose to ask." 

Asbury did not wait for the organization of Edu- 
cation, Missionary, Bible, Preachers' Relief, Tract, 
and Sunday School Societies, before entering upon 
the work connected with these benevolent depart- 
ments of church action, but combining all these 
societies in his own person, he originated and car- 
ried them into successful operation, and from the 
fact that these benevolent agencies all stand to this 
day, constantly increasing in magnitude and power, 
it is obvious that to this wonderful man belonged a 
share of wisdom rarelv found to exist in man, and 


such as fitted him in a most eminent degree for the 
position he occupied as the head of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in America. 


All these agencies he regarded as the natural out- 
growth of the Church, the pulsations of her mighty 
heart, throbbing with benevolent sympathy for man- 
kind.' The Church is in itself a missionary, Bible, 
Sunday School, and Mutual Eelief Society, and if 
any of these departments of benevolence are found 
necessary for their more efficient action to exist in a 
separate and distinct corporation, they can only be 
regarded in the light of auxiliaries to the Church for 
the furtherance of her benevolent design. We have 
sometimes doubted whether the multiplication of or- 
ganizations, with the frequently cumbrous and com- 
plex machinery of constitutions, managers, officers, 
and agents, separate and apart from the Church, was 
as efficient a mode for furthering the objects as it 
would be if they were brought directly in contact 
with the Church. When this pioneer missionary 
started out upon his continental journey he supplied 
himself with Bibles and other books, and scattered 
them abroad as the leaves of the tree of life and 
knowledge for the healing of the nation. He says 
in his Journal : " When the bishop was old and 
pressed down by many infirmities, when the 'almond- 
tree was flourishing, and those that look out of the 
windows were darkened, the grinders ceasing because 
they were few, and the keepers of the house began to 
tremble,' his brethren wished him to retire, as God 
had raised up many strong men ; but the bishop, like 


the apostolic Wesley, did not wisli ' to live to be use- 
less,' and replied, ' No man can do my work.' For- 
ward he would go in his Master's employment ; and 
though he was not able to preach as formerly, he 
would place a number of Bibles in his wagon and 
distribute them, saying, < Now I know I am sowing 
good seed.' 

Having originated Sunday schools, it was not long 
before Asbury had the subject incorporated in the 
Discipline of the Church. In 1784, in the section 
which defined the duty of ministers of the Gospel, 
we find the following : " What shall be done for the 
rising generation ? Who will labor for them ?" 

" Let him who is zealous for God and the souls of 
men begin now. 1. Where there are ten children 
whose parents are in society, meet them at least an 
hour every week ; 2. Talk with them every time you 
see any at home; 3. Pray in earnest for them; 
4. Diligently instruct and vehemently exhort all 
parents at their own houses; 5. Preach expressly 
on education." 

Six years subsequently the following appears in the 
Discipline : " What can be done in order to instruct 
poor children, white and black, to read ?" 

" Let us labor as the heart and soul of one man to 
establish Sunday schools in or near the place of pub- 
lic worship. Let persons be appointed by the bish- 
ops, elders, deacons, or preachers, to teach gratis all 


that will attend and have a capacity to learn, from 
six o'clock in the morning until ten, and from two 
o'clock in the afternoon until six, where it does not 


interfere with public worship. The Council shall 
compile a proper school-book to teach them learning 
and piety." After this Sunday schools were estab- 
lished in several places, and the teachers took noth- 
ing for their services. The greater part of the schol- 
ars were black children, whose parents were back- 
ward about sending them, and but few of them were 
regular in their attendance, so that in a short time 
the teachers were discouraged, and seeing little or 
no prospect of doing good .they gave up the 

On the subject of this section of the Discipline, 
Bishop Asbury thus comments : " Alas ! the great 
difficulty lies in finding men and women of genuine 
piety as instructors. Let us, however, endeavor to 
supply these spiritual defects. Let us follow the 
directions of this section, and we shall meet many 
in the day of judgment who will acknowledge before 
the great Judge, and an assembled universe, that 
their first desires after Christ and salvation were re- 
ceived in their younger years by our instrumentality. 
In towns we may, without difficulty, meet the chil- 
dren weekly, and in the plantations advise and pray 
with them every time we visit their houses : nay, in 
the country, if we give notice that at such a time 


we shall spend an hour or two at such a house with 
those children who shall attend, many of the neigh- 
bors will esteem it a privilege to send their children 
to us at the time appointed. But we must exercise 
much patience, as well as zeal, for the successful ac- 
complishment of this work. And if we can, with 
love and delight, condescend to their ignorance and 
childishness, and yet endeavor continually to raise up 
their little minds to the once dying but now exalted 
Saviour, we shall be made a blessing to thousands 
of them. 

" But let us labor among the poor in this respect 
as well as among the. competent. O, if our people in 
the cities, towns, and villages were but sufficiently 
sensible of the magnitude of this duty, and its ac- 
ceptableness to God if they would establish Sab- 
bath schools, wherever practicable, for the benefit of 
the children of the poor, and sacrifice a few public 
ordinances every Lord's day to this charitable and 
useful exercise, God would be to them instead of all 
the means they lose : yea, they would find, to their 
present comfort and the increase of their eternal 
glory, the truth and sweetness of those words, ' Mercy 
is better than sacrifice.' Matt, ix, 13 ; xii, 7 ; Hos. 
vi, 6. But there is so much of the cross in all this ! 
O when shall we be the true followers of a crucified 
Saviour !" 

The deep interest taken by this devoted man in the 


subject of the religious education of the children was 
perfectly apparent in his whole life. His Journal 
abounds with notices of his having preached on the 
subject, and shows the earnest solicitude which char- 
acterized all his labors in this particular department 
of Christian effort. Like a true philosopher, he 
knew that the hope of the country depended upon 
the proper education of the children, and like a 
wise master-builder in the erection of the Christian 
edifice, he was fully impressed with the fact that 
the hope of the Church, as it regarded its symme- 
try, beauty, and strength, depended upon the rising 
generations. Now that, after a .long life of toil for 
the salvation of parents and children, he has passed 
away, his memory is embalmed in the hearts of thou- 
sands, who have " risen up and called him blessed." 
There are perhaps this day more that bear the name 
of Asbury connected with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church than that of any other minister. Many of 
them are in the ministry, and show themselves to be 
true sons of the immortal father of American Meth- 
odism. In his last will and testament he made a pro- 
vision that all then living who bore his name should 
have a copy of the Bible, a beautiful edition of which 
he had procured for the purpose. How far this pro- 
vision was carried out we know not, but we mention 
it as an impressive and beautiful incident in the life 
of that man of "blessed" memory, and at the same 


time as an exhibition of a trait of character which 
distinguished him in the relation he bore to the chil- 


dren of the Church. Father Finley, one of the pio- 
neer preachers of the West, relates an incident as 
bearing upon this point which is truly touching. A 
youth at a camp-meeting was called by the good 
bishop and kindly spoken to on the subject of relig- 
ion, and the advice he received made such an im- 
pression on his mind as ever after remained, and 
served to mark and mold his destiny, for he after- 
ward became a minister in the Methodist Church, 
and was instrumental in the conversion of thou- 
sands. Asbury never allowed any opportunity to 
pass where he could speak to the children in the 
families where he stopped in his itinerant wan- 

In the year 1792 we find Asbury zealously en- 
gaged in organizing what he denominated district 
schools. His plan was to establish a school for the 
education of youth in every presiding elder's dis- 
trict. This was particularly desirable in the South- 
ern and "Western portions of his great field, where 
there were no common schools, and was but little less 
needed in the Xorth, where the academies and semi- 
naries were all monopolized, and under the exclusive 
control of denominations which had no sympathy for 
if indeed they were not hostile to the Methodists. 
The writer recollects distinctly when at certain insti- 


tutions of learning in the country the students were 
all required by law to study the Westminster Cate- 
chism, and on Sabbath were marched rank and file 
to the Presbyterian, church, no matter what their 
preferences or those of their parents. The same was 
true of the Episcopal Church institutions. In this 
movement, however, Asbury found himself, as he 
did in many other great benevolent enterprises, 
vastly in advance of his age. Still, he labored on, 
drew up an address calling the attention of the peo- 
ple to the subject, and exerted himself in every way 
to develop and advance the object he had in view. 
He was not, however, sustained in his laudable 
efforts, and was obliged to yield to the force of cir- 
cumstances and abandon the enterprise, however 
painful to his benevolent heart. 

Sixty-five years have passed away since the effort 
of Asbury to establish preparatory schools for the 
Church. Time in its ravages has swept away all of 
this description that then existed in the Church, but 
from their ashes have sprung up Conference acade- 
mies and seminaries all over the land, amounting in 
all, North and South, to upward of one hundred. 

In the year 1793 a Conference was held at Mount 
Bethel, South Carolina, at that time the seat of a 
high school founded by the labors of Asbury. A 
writer in the " Southern Advocate " furnishes the fol- 
lowing interesting sketch of this institution : 



" This section of the country was peopled by emi- 
grants from Virginia, among whom we may mention 
as permanent ' the Finches,' ; the Crenshaws,' ' the 
Malones' and others. Thev had become Methodists 


in their native state, and when the subject of a high 
school was agitated they entered heartily and with 
liberal subscriptions into the project. Edward Finch 
gave thirty acres of land as a site for the Institution. 
The buildings had been commenced, but for want of 
the necessary funds progressed slowly, so that when 
the Conference aforesaid met they were incomplete, 
and afforded, as may readily be imagined, but nar- 
row and uncomfortable quarters for thirty preachers. 
The daily sessions were held ' in an upstairs room of 
the house of Esquire Finch, twelve feet square.' 
During the year 1794 the building was completed, 
and was formally dedicated by Bishop Asbury ' on 
his next annual visit, on the 20th of March, 1795, 
with a sermon from 1 Thess. v, 16, and was named 
Mount Bethel.' On the succeeding Sabbath Asbury 
preached again and held a ' love-feast,' which proved 
to be a blessed season of spiritual refreshing. The 
school was for six years under the rectorship of the 
Rev. Mark Moore, a man eminently qualified for the 
post, assisted by two other teachers, Messrs. Smith 
and Hammond. At the close of this term of service, 
Mr. Moore resigned and took charge of a school in 
Columbia, where, by his influence and preaching 


ability, which was of the first order, he materially 
aided in the permanent establishment of Methodism 
in that city. On the retirement of Mr. Moore, Mr. 
Hammond, father of ex-Governor Hammond, took 
charge of the school and taught it with signal ability 
for many years. For a number of years Mount 
Bethel and Willington Academy (in Abbeville Dis- 
trict, under the control of the celebrated Dr. Wad- 
dell) were the only schools of high grade in the inte- 
rior of the state, and did much in the educational 
training of the young men of South Carolina. Mount 
Bethel was largely patronized, and had from time to 
time students from Georgia and North Carolina. A 
number of the leading men in our own state in sub- 
sequent years were prepared for college at Mount 
Bethel, among whom were Hon. John Caldwell, and 
Chancellor James J. Caldwell, of dewberry District, 
Judge Earl, the first ex-Governor Manning, of South 
Carolina, William and Wesley Harper, sons of Rev. 
John Harper. The first and second classes who 
graduated in the South Carolina College received 
their preparatory training here also. Wesley Har- 
per graduated in the second class of the college 
and died soon after. William Harper graduated 
in the third class in 1808, and subsequently became, 
as is well known, one of the first jurists in the 

"The main building of this institution was twenty 


by forty feet, divided by a partition, with chimneys 
at each end, constructed of rough, unhewn stone. 
The upstairs was used as the lodgings of the students. 
Several comfortable cabins were also built, and served 
as residences of the teachers and as boarding-houses. 
About a hundred yards distant, at the foot of a hill, 
ran a bold spring of pure cold water of sufficient 
volume to supply all the wants of the resident popu- 
lation. Of this monument of Asbury's zeal in the 
cause of education, nothing scarcely remains. All 
the buildings have been pulled down and the loca- 
tion much altered in its appearance, and the traveler 
who might now visit it would hardly conceive its 
former glory and usefulness. Nothing now remains 
to mark the spot except the three chimneys of 
'Father Finch's' house, which yet stand as solitary 
sentinels over this classic ground. Near by is a large 
grave-yard, in which many of the original settlers 
and some of the students quietly sleep the sleep of 
death. Here, too, lie in modest seclusion the last 
mortal remains of Rev. John Harper. A rude stone 
some six or eight inches above ground, bearing the 
letters ' J. H.,' marks his grave. Mr. Harper was a 
native Englishman, and came to this country with 
Dr. Coke and Dr. Brazier. He had been for some 
time a preacher in England, and when he arrived in 
America he entered the regular itinerant ministry. 
Bishop Asbury continued annually to visit Mount 


Bethel school until the year 1815, when old age and 
increasing infirmities curtailed the field of his labors. 


After years of prosperity and usefulness it began to 
decline, and finally ceased to exist about the year 
1820, and was, we believe, superseded by c Mount 
Ariel Academy,' in Abbeville District, and that in 
turn by c Cokesbury School.' 



Asbury 's Attachment to America when his Associates in the Ministry 
fled the Country Writes a Complimentary Letter to an Advo- 
cate of American Principles Admonition to the Conference in 
relation to the Employment of an English Preacher His xinbounded 
Admiration for Washington Proposition to the New York Con- 
ference in 1789 Asbury and his Associates introduced to Washing- 
ton in his Official Capacity Address of the Bishop Washington's 
Eeply The Methodist Episcopal Church the first to recognize the 
Government of the United States With other Churches an after- 
thought No Union of Church and State, but Government Protection 
The Government Christian Obedience to Government an Article 
of Eeligion Eeflections Asbury's Example Tribute to Washing- 
ton Thoughts on Eeligious Liberty Connecticut and Massachusetts 
Priest-ridden View of the United States Continental Officers. 

WE have already remarked that the moment Asbury 
adopted this country as his home he became at once 
and forever an American in sentiment and action. 
"When those who had come here before him, and 
those who were associated with him in the govern- 


ment of the Church, in time of trial left the country 
and the poor scattered flock in the wilderness and 
returned to England, he bravely stood his ground, 
resolving with the indomitable Adams, " live or die, 
sink or swim, survive or perish," he would remain 
identified with the country of his adoption, and 
never forsake the people of his charge. We ever 
find him on the side of the patriots of the Revolution, 
and stoutly withstanding to the face every English 


preacher who showed the least want of respect or 
lo} r alty to American principles. At one time we 
find him writing a complimentary letter to a Presby- 
terian minister who had made a speech in the consti- 
tutional convention in favor of the principles of 
American liberty; and at another time, when the 
Conference was engaged in discussing a resolution 
looking toward the employment of an English 
preacher who had left his appointment in the West 
Indies without permission, we hear him in a voice 
of thunder exclaiming, "Take care! take care/" and 
adding, "I have had more trouble with English 
preachers than all others put together." 

He possessed the most unbounded admiration for 
"Washington. He, the first, the greatest, and the best 
of men, always commanded his highest sympathy and 
regard. With Washington he had many personal 
and friendly interviews, and availed himself of such 
whenever opportunity presented ; and when that 
great and good man was chosen by the suffrages 
of his countrymen to preside over the nation as its 
chief magistrate, he was among the first to con- 
gratulate him upon his elevation to so distinguished 
a post. 

Among the prominent acts of the Conference held 
in New York in 1789, Asbury offered the follow- 
ing proposition: "Whether it would not be proper 
for us as a Church to present a congratulatory ad- 


dress to General Washington, who has been lately 
inaugurated President of the United States, in which 
should be embodied our approbation of the Constitu- 
tion, and professing our allegiance to the govern- 
ment." The Conference unanimously acceded to 
the proposition, and enthusiastically recommended 
the measure, requesting the bishop to prepare such 
an address. The same day the address was presented 
and read to the Conference, and meeting its hearty 
approval, Dickins and Morrell were appointed a 
committee to wait on the president and inform 
him of the action of the Conference, and request 
him to appoint a day when he would receive 
the bishop, who would read the address and receive 
his answer. 

At the appointed time, accompanied by Dickins and 
Morrell, Asbury was introduced to the president in 
his official character, and in a clear and impressive 
manner read the following : 


SIR, We, the bishops of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, humbly beg leave, in the name of our 
society collectively in these United States, to express 
to you the warm feelings of our hearts, and our sin- 
cere congratulations on your appointment to the 
presidentship of these states. We are conscious, 
from the signal proofs you have already given, that 
you are a friend of mankind ; and under this estab- 


lished idea, place as full confidence in your wisdom 
and integrity for the preservation of those civil and 
religious liberties which have been transmitted to 
us by the providence of God and the glorious 
Revolution, as we believe ought to be reposed 
in man. 

" We have received the most grateful satisfaction 
from the humble and entire dependence on the great 
Governor of the universe which you have repeatedly 
expressed, acknowledging him the source of every 
blessing, and particularly of the most excellent Con- 
stitution of these States, which is at present the admi- 
ration of the world, and may in future become its 
great exemplar for imitation ; and hence we enjoy a 
holy expectation that you will always prove a faithful 
and impartial patron of genuine, vital religion, the 
grand end of our creation and present probationary 
existence. And we promise you our fervent prayers 
to the throne of grace, that God Almighty may 
endue you with all the graces and gifts of his Holy 
Spirit, that he may enable you to fill up your import- 
ant station to his glory, the good of his Church, the 
happiness and prosperity of the United States, and 
the welfare of mankind." 

After Asbury had concluded, Washington rose and 
read in a calm but earnest manner the following 
reply ; 


" GENTLEMEN, I return to you individually, and 
through you to your society collectively in the United 
States, my thanks for the demonstrations of affection, 
and the expressions of joy offered in their behalf, on 
my late appointment. It shall be my endeavor to 
manifest the purity of my inclinations for promoting 
the happiness of mankind, as well as the sincerity of 
my desires to contribute whatever may be in my 
power toward the civil and religious liberties of the 
American people. In pursuing this line of conduct, 
I hope, by the assistance of Divine Providence, not 
altogether to disappoint the confidence which you 
have been pleased to repose in me. 

" It always affords me satisfaction when I find a 


concurrence of sentiment and practice between all 
conscientious men, in acknowledgment of homage to 
the great Governor of the universe, and in professions 
of support to a just civil government. After mention- 
ing that I trust the people of every denomination, who 
demean themselves as good citizens, will have occa- 
sion to be convinced that I shall always strive to 
prove a faithful and impartial patron of genuine, 
vital religion, I must assure you in particular, that 
I take in the kindest part the promise you make 
of presenting your prayers at the throne of grace 
for me, and that I likewise implore the Divine 
benediction on yourselves and your religious com- 


The address to Washington was signed by Bishops 
Coke and Asbury in behalf of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church in the United States of America, and that of 
"Washington was addressed " To the Bishops of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of 
America." Thus the Methodist Episcopal Church 
was the very first in an ecclesiastical capacity to 
recognize the government of the United States, and 
its chief magistrate, in a public and formal manner ; 
and its independent organization was in turn recog- 
nized by the highest authority in the Union. "With 
the Presbyterian and other Churches it was an after- 
thought to present similar addresses, but nevertheless 
it was none the less right and appropriate, and de- 
serving of commendation, on that account. Though 
the government of the United States recognizes no 
legal union with the Church or any branch of it, and 
has in consequence been denounced by our enemies 
as godless and antichristian, it has nevertheless from 
the beginning thrown its protecting segis over the 
Church, and as sacredly guards the rights of con- 
science as it does the freedom of political opinion. 
Our government is as thoroughly Christian, both in 
its federal and state capacity, as any ecclesiastico-po- 
litical establishment in the world, and is the only gov- 
ernment under heaven where religious liberty exists. 

Among the Articles of Religion of the Methodist 
Church we find the following : 


" XXIII. Of the Eiders of the United States of 
America. The president, the congress, the general 
assemblies, the governors, and the councils of state as 
the delegates of the people^ are the rulers of the United 
States of America, according to the division of power 
made to them by the general Act of Confederation 
and by the Constitution of their respective states. 
And the said states ought not to be subject to any 
foreign jurisdiction." Subsequently the following 
note was added : " As far as it respects civil aifairs, 
we believe it is the duty of Christians, and especial- 
ly all Christian ministers, to be subject to the supreme 
authority of the country where they may reside, and 
to use all laudable means to enjoin obedience to the 
powers that ><?, and therefore it is expected that all 
our preachers and people who may be under the 
British government, or any other government, 
will behave themselves as peaceable and orderly 

These declarations embrace the doctrine of the 
Church in regard to civil government, and whoever 
is not governed by this doctrine, and is not loyal to 
the government where he resides, cannot be a Meth- 
odist of the American stamp. Asbury, the father 
and founder of American Methodism, has set a noble 
example to all his sons in the ministry in his attach- 
ment to the government, and the respect he paid to 
its chief rulers. It is readily admitted that the chair 


of state has not always been occupied by such pure 
and noble men as Washington, but whoever shall in 
the providence of God be called or permitted to fill 
that place, if the man cannot command our love, the 
office itself should command our respect. 

We shall close this chapter by a quotation from 
Asbury's Journal, referring to the death of Washing- 
ton. It is a noble tribute, worthy of its author. 

" Washington, the calm, intrepid chief, the disinter- 
ested friend, first father, and temporal saviour of his 
country, under divine protection and direction. A 
universal cloud sat upon the faces of the citizens of 
Charleston; the pulpits clothed in black, the bells 
muffled, the paraded soldiery, the public oration 
decreed to be delivered on Friday, the 14th of this 
month, a marble statue to be placed in some proper 
situation these were the expressions of sorrow, and 
these the marks of respect paid by his fellow-citizens 
to this great man. I am disposed to lose sight of all 
but Washington. Matchless man ! At all times he 
acknowledged the providence of God, and never was 
he ashamed of his Kedeemer. We believe he died 
not fearing death. In his will he ordered the manu- 
mission of his slaves a true son of liberty in all 

While at Ellington, Connecticut, in 1794, Asbury 
preached in a school-house, and felt great dejection 
of spirit at the iron walls of prejudice which existed, 


and indulged in the following reflections on the sub- 

O l 

iect of religious liberty : " Out of the fifteen United 

t) ' 

States thirteen are free, but two are fettered with 
ecclesiastical chains, taxed to support ministers who 
are chosen by a small committee and settled for life. 
My simple prophecy is that this must come to an end 
with the present century. The Rhode Islanders be- 
gan in time and are free. Hail, sons of liberty! Who 
first began the war? Was it not Connecticut and 
Massachusetts? and priests are now saddled upon 
them. O what a happy people would these be if 
they were not thus priest-ridden ! I heard a most 
severe letter from a citizen of Vermont to the clergy 
and Christians of Connecticut, striking at the founda- 
tion and principle of the hierarchy. It was the ex- 
pression of the Yermonters to continue free from 
ecclesiastical fetters, to follow the Bible, and give 
equal liberty to all denominations of professing 

In 1796 he read Winterbotham's Yiew of the 
United States, and remarked that "he had compared 
the great talk about President Washington formerly 
with what some say and write of him now. Accord- 
ing to some he then did nothing wrong; it is now 
said that he was always partial to aristocrats and 
continental officers. As to the latter I ask, Who 
bought the liberty of the states? Did not the con- 
tinental officers, and should they not reap a little of 


the sweets of rest and peace. These were not chim- 
ney-corner whigs. But favors to many of the officers 
would now come too late. A great number of them 
are gone to eternity, their constitutions broken with 
hard fare and labor during the war. As to myself, 
the longer I live and the more I investigate, the 
more I am convinced of, and the more I applaud 
and approve of, the uniform conduct of President 
Washington in all the important stations which he 
has filled." 



Asbury and Coke at Port Boyal, South Carolina Sad Intelligence of 
the Death of Wesley Tribute Coke left for Baltimore to take 
Passage to England Preaches a Funeral Sermon hi Baltimore Con- 
ference Conference at Duck Creek and Trenton New York 
Asbury preaches before the Conference on the Occasion of Wesley's 
Death New Haven President of Yale College and Professors Col- 
lege Chapel Uncourteous Treatment Providence Boston Dis- 
couraged Lynn Prophecy Fulfillment Letter to a young Minis- 
ter Visits various Places in New England Eeturns to New York 
Journey West and South Tennessee Indian Depredations Crosses 
the Wilderness Kentucky Boone, the Pioneer Hunter Paradise 
for the Poor Man Eock Castle Station Conference at Bethel Prep- 
arations for Eeturn Alarm Incidents of Travel Watching the Sen- 
tinels Land-marks of Travel Conference at Lynn Pittsfield 
Grand Meeting House New Divinity Preacher Character of Eastern 
People Medicinal Waters of Lebanon Devil's Tents Conference 
at Albany Questions of Theology discussed Hudson and Ehine- 
beck Conference in New York Love-Feast Dr. L.'s Preaching 
Hospitality of Friends Sermon on the Lord's Supper Dr. Langdon 
on Eevelations Judge White's Milford Jefferson's Notes on Vir- 
ginia Incident at Judge White's Tribute to his Memory. 

WHILE Asbury and Coke were at Port Royal, South 
Carolina, in the spring of 1791, they received the sad 
intelligence of the death of Wesley. "We find in 
Asbury's Journal the following tribute of respect for 
that great man : " The solemn news reached our ears 
that the public papers had announced the death of 
that dear man of God, John Weslev. He died in his 

* */ 

own house in London in the eighty-eighth year of his 
age, after preaching the Gospel sixty -four years. 


When we consider his plain and nervous writings, 
his uncommon talent for sermonizing and journal- 
izing, that he had such a steady flow of animal 
spirits, so much of the spirit of government in him, 
his knowledge as an observer, his attainments as a 
scholar, his experience as a Christian, I conclude his 
equal is not to be found among all the sons he hath 
brought up, nor his superior among all the sons of 
Adam he may have left behind. Brother Coke was 
sunk in spirit, and wished to start home immediately. 
For myself, notwithstanding my long absence from 
Mr. Wesley, and a few unpleasant expressions in 
some of the letters the dear old man has written to 
me, occasioned by the misrepresentation of others, I 
feel the stroke most sensibly, and I expect I shall 
never read his works without reflecting on the loss 
which the Church of God and the world has sus- 
tained by his death." 

Dr. Coke soon left for Baltimore, for the purpose 
of taking the first passage that should offer for En- 
gland. Having arrived in Baltimore, he preached 
on the occasion of the death of Wesley to a large 
congregation. It was a solemn and interesting oc- 
casion, and was most appropriately improved. Con- 
ference was held soon after in that city, and Asbury 
was present and preached on the succeeding Sab- 
bath. From hence he went to Duck Creek, where 

he held Conference, and from thence to the Trenton 



Conference. After attending to the business of the 
Conference he proceeded to Kew York. The mem- 
bers of the Conference, which consisted of about 
thirty preachers, and the members of the two Church- 
es, the old and the new, united in requesting Asbury 
to preach on the occasion of Wesley's death, which 
he consented to, preaching in the morning in the 
John-street, and in the afternoon in the Forsyth-street 
church, from the text, " But thou hast fully known 
my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long- 
suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, 
which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at 
Lystra ; what persecutions I endured ; but out of them 
all the Lord delivered me." It was said by those who 
heard these discourses that they were worthy of their 
author and the occasion which called them forth. 

After the close of this Conference the bishop went 
to Xew Haven, Connecticut. At this appointment 
he had the president of Yale College, some of the 
professors and students, and quite a number of cit- 
izens as hearers. He gives the division of his sub- 
ject on that occasion : " 1. What we must be saved 
from ; 2. What has been esteemed by the men of 
the world as the wisdom of preaching ; 3. What is 
meant by the foolishness of preaching." We pre- 
sume from the division that the text was, " It pleased 
God by the foolishness of preaching to save them 
that believe.' After he had finished his discourse 


no one came forward to speak to him. He availed 
himself of the opportunity of visiting the college 
chapel during the hour of prayer, and had a desire 
to visit the different departments of the college 
and inspect the arrangements, but whether they 
noticed him or not in the chapel, neither president 
nor professors deigned to pa} r any attention to him 
whatever. If this was designed, which we are rather 

<u f 

inclined to think was the case, as such want of court- 
esy has occurred before where Methodist preach- 
ers were concerned, it was unpardonable. True 
wisdom as well as true religion, to say nothing of 
politeness, puts not on such supercilious airs as char- 
acterized some of the divines of that day. 

From New Haven he went to Providence and 
preached, and from thence to Boston, where he also 
preached ; but being totally disgusted with the place 
and its want of hospitality, he exclaimed : " I am 
done with Boston until we can find a lodging-house 
to preach in, and some to join us." From Boston he 
rode to Lynn, a place which he called " the perfec- 
tion of beauty," situated on a plain under a ridge of 
craggy hills and open to the sea. Here he found a 
promising society and an exceedingly well-behaved 
congregation. " Here," said Asbury, " we shall make 
a firm stand, and from this central point shall the 
light of truth and Methodism radiate through the 
state. How clearly and fully this prophecy has been 


fulfilled, the present state of the Church in Lynn, the 
declarations of Parsons Cooke to the contrary not- 
withstanding, abundantly show. While here he wrote 
the following interesting letter to Daniel Filler, a 
young minister who had been sent to Halifax : 

" MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, I called at your father's 


house, and spent a night there on nay way from Old 
Town Conference. We hope the dear old people 
will make their way to glory. They will long greatly 
to see you after two years. You will return to the 
continent, or at least to the grand American Union, 
when your way is clear. We have a general growth 
and increase of souls. I hope that not less than three 
thousand will be made subjects of grace this year. 
A pretty general harmony reigns through the body 
as to traveling preachers. J. O'K***y is nearly left 
alone. His next move will be among the local line 
and the membership. Notwithstanding our trouble 
the work goes on westward, yet the savages are rest- 
less. I expect that in a very few years we shall 
be through New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont 
states, and so become near neighbors to Nova Scotia. 
" I fear I do not see as much simplicity in our 
young brethren now as in years past. The love of 
shining in dress and talents appears to be too preva- 
lent. O my dear child, keep humble, watchful, sim- 
ple, and walk with God, that you may live as well as 


preach the very spirit and practice of the Gospel. 
My heart is toward you in the love of Jesus. If I 
should see you again, O may you be full of grace and 
God ! Thine as ever." 


After visiting and preaching at Salem, Marble- 
head, Manchester, Waltham, and Hartford, he re- 
turned to New York. Remaining here for a short 
time, attending to the interests of the Church in its 
various departments, he took up the line of his jour- 
ney again to the West. After passing through Penn- 
sylvania, Virginia, North and South Carolina, he ar- 
rived at Tennessee. Here the bishop heard accounts 
of the depredations by Indians, which had produced 
a good deal of consternation in the country. He 
started from hence again to the wilderness, with a 
guard to protect him from the savages. After rest- 
ing on Sabbath at Crabb's, where he preached, the 
company entered the wilderness. Some were on 
foot, carrying their packs on their shoulders. Among 
the number, strange to say, there were some women 
with their children, who had consented to brave the 
dangers of the wilderness, and seek a better home in 
the rich and fertile plains of the West. Kentucky 
had been described by the pioneer hunter, Boone, 
and his daring companions, who penetrated its desert 
wilds years before, as a very paradise for the poor 
man. And such it was, abounding in every variety 


of game, and having the richest and most luxuriant 
soil. With such inducements many were prompted 
to leave their poor inheritances in North Carolina 
and other parts, and to seek a better home in the 
fertile valley beyond the Cumberland. The compa- 
ny at length reached Laurel River, which they were 
compelled to swim. When they reached Rock Cas- 
tle station, Asbury remarked that " he found such a 
set of sinners as made that place next door to hell 
itself." The next day they were obliged to reswim 
the river twice in their journey. Asbury 's horse was 
well nigh worn out, as was himself, being thoroughly 
wet all day. After a hard day's ride they reached 
the Crab Orchard late in the evening, wet and weary. 
In his Journal the bishop says : " How much I have 
suffered in this journey is only known to God and 
myself. What added much to its disagreeableness is 
the extreme filthiness of the houses." While here he 
wrote an address in behalf of the Bethel Academy, 
and made arrangements for improvements in the 
style of the building, which was ill adapted to the 
purposes for which it was erected. 

On Wednesday, April 25th, 1792, the Conference 
commenced at Bethel. Yast crowds of people at- 
tended the ministry. After presiding and making 
out the appointments of the preachers, he made 
preparations for a return trip across the wilderness. 
An alarm was spreading of a depredation committed 


by the Indians on the east and west frontier of the 
settlement. It was reported that many men and 
women were killed. The consequence of such in- 
telligence was that great excitement prevailed 
throughout that region. The party, however, start- 
ed on their journey, determined at all hazards to 
brave the dangers. When the bishop reached 
Rock Castle he was well nigh worn out with fa- 
tigue. With a violent fever and pain in his head 
he stretched himself exhausted on the cold ground, 
and borrowing clothes to keep himself warm, he was 
enabled to sleep four or five hours. At the next 
stopping-place he could have slept more comforta- 
bly, but was deterred from closing his eyes on ac- 
count of the proximity of the Indians. Seeing the 
drowsiness of the company he could not be persuaded 
to lie down, but walked the encampment and watched 
the sentries during the entire night. The company 
consisted of thirty-six. At length he reached Yir- 
ginia and proceeded to Half-acres, and from thence 
went to Holstein, where the Conference for this re- 
gion was held. 

Passing through a valley where there were fifty 
miles without a house, he came to Uniontown. "We 
find in his Journal but the merest sketch of his rides 
and stopping-places, but as landmarks we are ena- 
bled by them to trace his journeys round the conti- 
nent from year to year. Again he is in Pennsylvania 


and Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, 
and Massachusetts, everywhere preaching the word. 
As the angel of the Apocalypse flying in mid-heaven 
with the everlasting Gospel to preach to all nations, 
so this pioneer bishop literally flew from state to 
state, and from territory to territory, with the mes- 
sages of salvation. 

The Conference for the Eastern division of the 
work was held this year at Lynn, where Asbury met 
eight preachers and transacted the business of the 
Church. A church edifice had been commenced, 
and was partly finished, in which there was preach- 
ing every night during the session of the Conference 
by one of its members selected for the occasion. The 
ordination sermon preached by the bishop on this 
occasion was from the text, "Not that we are suf- 
ficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves ; 
but our sufficiency is of God ; who also hath made us 
able ministers of the New Testament ; not of the let- 
ter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the 
spirit giveth life." From hence Asbury went to 
Pittsfield, which he describes as " a pleasant plain 
reaching from mountain to mountain, with a popula- 
tion of two thousand souls. There was a grand meet- 
ing-house and steeple, both of which were as white 
and glistening as Solomon's temple. The minister was 
on the new divinity plan." Asbury enjoyed here the 
privilege of " retiring alone to the cool sylvan shade 


in frequent converse with his best Friend." "We 
held," says the bishop, " our meeting in a noble 
house built for Baptists, Separatists, or somebody, and 
is now occupied by the Methodists. A large and at- 
tentive congregation was present. The Eastern people 
are not to be moved it is true ; they are too accus- 
tomed to hear systematical preaching to be moved 
by a systematical sermon even by a Methodist ; but 
they have their feelings, and touch but the right 
string and they will be moved." 

He thus describes Lebanon, in the State of New 
York : " The medicinal waters here are soft, pure, and 
light, with no small quantity of fixed air. I found a 
poor bath-house. Here the devil's tents are set up, 
and, as is common at these encampments, his children 
are doing his drudgery." From hence he went to 
Albany and met twenty-one preachers in Conference. 
The occasion was one of great peace and harmony. 
Two deacons and four elders were elected and or- 
dained. Each preacher was called upon to relate his 
experience, and the incidents connected with his itin- 
erancy since the last session. These conversations 
not only embraced personal experience, but a review 
of doctrines and modes of preaching. At this Con- 
ference Jonathan Newman was appointed mission- 
ary to the whites and Indians on the frontier. An- 
other was sent to Cataraqui. The questions of 
theology discussed were the following: "1. How 


are we to deal with sinners? 2. How should we 
treat with mourners? 3. In what manner should 
hypocrites be addressed ? 4. How should we deal 
with backsliders? 5. What is the best kind of 
preaching for believers?" A discussion of these 
questions we think might be profitable at the pres- 
ent day. They are certainly vastly more relevant, 
and more in accordance with the peculiar vocation 
of a preacher of the Gospel, than many other sub- 
jects which not only seem to engross councils, assem- 
blies, and Conferences, but the pulpit itself, and 
which in many instances engender strifes and hinder 
the progress of religion. Preaching was held in the 
market-house, and the meetings were lively and in- 
teresting. About two hundred conversions had oc- 


curred in the district since the former session of the 
Conference. From hence Asbury rode to Hudson 
and Rhinebeck, and dined on his way to New 
Rochelle at Governor Yan Cortlandt's. At New 
Kochelle he held quarterly meeting, and preached to 
large congregations with great liberty. 

September 27th Conference opened in New York, 
twenty-eight preachers being present. Most of the 
afternoon of the first day was spent in prayer and 
the relation of ministerial experience. The occasion 
was one of unusual interest. A Conference love- 
feast was held on Friday. "We will let Asbury, in 
his own quaint, nervous, laconic style, describe the 



thoughts which occupied his mind at this Confer- 
ence: "My mind has been so bent to the business of 
the Conference that I have slept but little this week. 
Connecticut is supplied much to niy mind, several 
very promising young men having been admitted 
into this Conference. The societies are in harmony, 
but not as lively as they should be. I went to hear 
Dr. L., but was greatly disappointed ; he had such a 
rumbling voice that I could understand but little in 
that great house. How elegant the building ! How 
small the appearance of religion ! Lord have mercy 
upon the Reformed Churches. O ye dry bones, hear 
the word of the Lord. 1 was much obliged to my 
friend for renewing my clothing and giving me a lit- 
tle pocket-money; this is better than 500 per an- 
num. I told some of our preachers who were very 
poor how happy they were, and that probably had 
they more their wants would proportionally increase." 

It is somewhat remarkable that New York sup- 
plied, or mostly supplied, Asbury with clothing and 
outfits for his journey. At least, if he obtained help 
from other places, with the exception of Baltimore, 
of this description, he did not make it so frequently 
a matter of record. In numerous instances he no- 
tices the hospitality and benevolence of friends in 
New York. 

On Sabbath the bishop preached a sermon, prepara- 
tory to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, from the 


text, " Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye 
may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even 
Christ our passover is sacrificed for us : therefore 
let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with 
the leaven of malice and wickedness ; but with the 
unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." His ob- 
ject was to show the points of similitude between the 
passover and the supper of the Lord, in which he 
noticed the simplicity and purity of bread instead of 
the flesh of an animal, and wine instead of the blood 
of a creature ; wine, the blood of Christ, and grace, 
the life of our souls. He showed that true penitents 
and real believers were proper communicants ; and 
also described the manner in which the sacrament 
was to be taken, not with unleavened bread, but with 
sincerity and truth. 

On his route from ]^ew York he stopped at his old 
friend Judge White's, in Delaware, which we believe 
is the only place in all his Journal, with the excep- 
tion of Sherwood's, that he calls "home" 

In reading Dr. Langdon on Revelation, he re- 
marks : " I find little new or very spiritual. He is 
like the Newtons, and all historical interpreters ; one 
thing is wanting. And might not an interpreter 
show the present time foretold by these signs, which 
plainly point to the why and the wherefore it is that 
some are Christian bishops and Christian dissertators 
on prophecy? A bishopric with one, or two, or 


three thousand sterling a year as an appendage 
might determine the most hesitating in their choice. 
I see no reason why a heathen philosopher, who had 
enough of this world's wisdom to see the advantages 
of wealth and honors, should not say, ' Give me a 
bishopric and I will be a Christian.' In the eastern 
states also there are very good and sufficient reasons 
for the faith of the favored ministry. Ease, honor, 
interest ; what follows ? Idolatry, superstition, death." 

After remaining at Judge White's for a few days 
he proceeded to Milford, where he preached and held 
a Conference with the local preachers. From thence 
he traveled on from one quarterly meeting to 
another, holding local preachers' Conferences, and 
preaching until he came round again to White's. 
While here this time he read Jefferson's Notes on 
Virginia, a book full of romantic incidents of border- 
life ; and it was at this place he made the remark that 
he "thought it safer for him to be occasionally 
among the people of the world than wholly confined 
to the indulgent people of God. He who sometimes 
suffers from a famine will better know how to relish 
a feast." 

The following interesting incident in connection 
with his visits to this place is given by the Hon. 
Isaac Davis : 

"During the time when Governor Bassett was a 
practicing lawyer in the town of Dover, Delaware, 


previously to his election to the post of chief magis- 
trate of the state, it was his custom, in the business 
of his profession, to attend the sittings of the court in 
Denton, Md., and he often, when on his way to and 
from Denton, would spend a night with his friend 
Judge White, where Bishop Asbury enjoyed the 
comforts of a home when in the state, and where he 
found a secure retreat for two or three years during 
the Revolutionary struggle. 

" On one of these periodical visits, Judge White 
being absent, his amiable wife received and enter- 
tained their guest. It was not long, however, before 
Mr. Bassett observed other gentlemen present besides 
himself, when he sought Mrs. White, and inquired 
with evident perturbation : 

" ' Madam, who are these gentlemen dressed in 
black ? ' 

"Mrs. White, knowing that Methodist preachers 
were not in very high repute, answered evasively, 
' They are gentlemen here on very important busi- 


"This indefinite reply not being satisfactory to Mr. 
Bassett, he insisted further : 

" ' Madam, I should like to know who these gentle- 

men are.' 

"When Mrs. White replied, 'They are Mr. As- 
bury and his preachers.' 

" This information was no sooner received than Mr. 


Bassett determined to leave, and said to his hostess, 
4 1 must have my horse.' 

"Mrs. White, understanding the case perfectly, 
replied, ' You cannot leave to-night, sir. 5 

"Mr. Bassett still demanded, l l must have my 
horse, I must be gone.' 

"But Mrs. White more positively declared he 
must not leave, when he resigned himself to his fate, 
and submitted to the infliction of an evening with 
the bishop and his colaborers ; after which he was 

constrained to admit they were not the most uninter- 
esting in the world, and, as an act of courtesy, he in- 
vited Mr. Asbury to visit him the next time he 
should come into Dover. When Mr. Bassett re- 
turned home he told his wife of his adventure, and 
concluded by saying, ' I have invited the Methodist 
bishop to visit us. And what will we do, my dear, 
should he come?' 

" ' Do the best we can,' was the only reply. 

" Shortly after Mr. Bassett was busily engaged in 
his office. Happening to raise his eyes, and looking 
out on the green, he saw a venerable form on horse- 
back, riding leisurely toward his door, whom he soon 
recognized to be none other than the veritable Meth- 
odist bishop he had met at Judge White's; he 
quickly informed his wife of the arrival, who ran up 
stairs in a fright. Mr. Bassett cast about in his mind 
how he should entertain his rather unwelcome guest ; 


his plan was decided upon ; invitations were sent to 
the most distinguished gentlemen in the neighbor- 
hood ; the lawyers, doctors, and clergymen were 
all called in ; Mr. Bassett thought to overwhelm the 
poor Methodist bishop with an array of intellect ; but 
Mr. Asbury seemed perfectly composed and at home 
among gentlemen. After supper the conversation 
took a more decidedly literary character, and among 
other things a recent publication came up, upon 
which several criticisms were passed, Mr. Asbury's 
being the clearest, most comprehensive, and intelli- 
gent. The company conceded to him his proper 
place. They became listeners, and he the delight of 
every person present ; and from that evening party 
must be reckoned the beginning of Mr. Asbury's 
popularity in Dover. 

The best of the story remains to be told. By re- 
quest, Mr. Asbury preached the next evening to a 
large and intelligent audience. Mrs. Bassett gave 
him a hearing from her piazza, fearing to venture 
nearer ; next night from the door of the house in 
which the bishop preached ; the third night she min- 
gled in the congregation, and soon after was con- 
verted, and proved the first-fruits of Bishop Asbury's 
labors in Dover. Who can fail to note the hand of 
Providence in this whole affair, from the beginning 
to the ending ?' " 

The bishop paid the following merited tribute 


to the memory of Judge White. As this was his 
home during a portion of the dark troublous times 
of the Revolutionary war, when the preachers fled 
from the country, and others were fined and im- 
prisoned for their adherence to the British govern- 
ment, and he found in this family a safe retreat, he 
could not but feel, as he expresses himself on hearing 
of the death of the judge, most sadly : 

"Thursday, May 21, 1T95. This day I heard of the 
death of one among my best friends in America, 
Judge White, of Kent county, in the state of Dela- 
ware. This news was attended with an awful shock 
to me. I have met with nothing like it in the death 
of any friend on the continent. Lord, help us all to 
live out our short day to thy glory ! I have lived 
days, weeks, and months in his house. O that his 
removal may be sanctified to my good and the good 
of the family ! He was about sixty-five years of age. 
He was a friend to the poor and oppressed ; he had 
been a professed Churchman, and was united to the 
Methodist connection about seventeen or eighteen 
years. His house and heart were always open, and 
he was a faithful friend to liberty in spirit and prac- 
tice ; he was a most indulgent husband, a tender 
father, and an affectionate friend. He professed 
perfect love and great peace, living and dying." 




Coke's Return, from England A Crisis in the History of the Church 
Statistics in 1792 Friction in the Machinery of Methodism Power 
of the Episcopacy Causes which led to the Formation of the General 
Conference Plan of a Council Plan Adopted Minutes of the First 
Council Members present Constitution Resolutions Second 
Council Members present O'Kelly Opposition of Lee Lust 
Council held Call for a General Conference Duly organized By- 
laws adopted Review of the Discipline Episcopal Power O'Kel- 
ly' s Resolution Asbury withdraws from the Conference Room His 
Letter to the Conference Discussion Episcopacy sustained Sub- 
sequent Revival of the Question Methodist Protestant Church Lee's 
History Questions pertaining to the Election, Ordination, and Trial 
of a Bishop Presiding Elder Question Duties denned Provision 
for Traveling Preachers' Wives Salary John Dickins appointed 
Agent of Book Concern Fee for performing Marriage Ceremony 
Money to be given to the Conference Presents to be accounted for 
Certificate of Removal Rule of Arbitration adopted Chapter on 
Public "Worship Asbury 's Reflections on the General Conference 
Opinion of O'Kelly Revision of the Discipline End of the Session 
Another General Conference agreed upon. 

COKE having returned from England, whither he had 
gone soon after receiving intelligence of Wesley's 
death, the two bishops again met in Baltimore just 
on the eve of the General Conference. An import- 
ant crisis had now arrived in the history of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. Under the superintendency 
of Asbury the difficulties which in other days had 
threatened its peace and unity had all been hap- 
pily adjusted. A separate and distinct organization, 
effected through the advice and by the authority of 


Wesley at the general convention of the preachers in 
Baltimore in 1784, while it removed all the obstacles 
out of the way of the exercise of full ministerial func- 
tions by the ministers, at the same time invested 
the Church with every right and prerogative to adopt 
whatever articles of religion it deemed wise and 
proper, as well as to make all the laws and regula- 
tions necessary for its government. Under this state 
of things the Church continued to prosper, and in 
1792 the membership had increased to sixty-five 
thousand nine hundred and eighty, and the ministry 
to two hundred and sixty-six. The Church had also 
enlarged the area of her territory, and extended it 
from Massachusetts to Georgia. Twenty Conferences 
instead of three were now held annually, and the 
number was increasing yearly, so wonderfully did 
the work of the Lord spread and prevail. While 
these eight years had wrought changes in the exter- 
nal appearance of Methodism, and everywhere there 
appeared the most evident signs of prosperity, there 
were nevertheless, to the eye of the ever watchful 
Asbury, signs of discontent. The vast and efficient 
machinery put so successfully in operation was not 
without its friction. It was thought by some that 
the power of the episcopacy was brought to bear too 
strongly upon the preachers ; or, in other words, that 
the prerogative of the bishop to appoint preachers 
at his pleasure required some restriction. One of the 


presiding ciders had indulged to a considerable ex- 
tent in remarks against the exercise of this power, 
and had to the extent of his influence created quite a 
sentiment in opposition. It was this, with other mat- 
ters of moment connected with the interests of the 
Church, that led the Council, which constituted the 
highest judiciary in the Church at that time, to sug- 
gest the propriety of calling a General Conference, 
to be composed of all the preachers in full con- 

Before proceeding to describe the deliberations and 
acts of this General Conference, we deem it proper 
to bring to view more specifically the causes which 
led to its formation. In 1789. considerable discussion 
was had on the subject of a General Conference. To 
obviate the necessity of such a general convoca- 
tion, the bishops presented to the Conferences the 
plan of a Council. It was introduced by the follow- 
ing preamble : " Whereas the holding of General 
Conferences on this extensive continent would be at- 
tended with a variety of difficulties and many incon- 
veniences to the work of God ; and whereas we 
judge it expedient that a council should be formed 
of chosen men out of the several districts as repre- 
sentatives of the whole connection, to meet at stated 
times, Therefore," etc, 

To the questions, " In what manner shall this coun- 
cil be formed? what shall be its powers? and what 


the regulations concerning it ?" the following answer 

was given : 

" 1. Our bishops and presiding elders shall be the 
members of this Council, provided that the members 
who form it shall never be less than nine. If any 
unavoidable circumstance prevent the attendance of 
a presiding elder at the Council, he shall have au- 
thority to send another elder out of his own district 
to represent him ; but the elder so sent shall not take 
his seat in the Council without the consent of the 
bishop, or bishops, and presiding elders present. 
And if, after the above -mentioned provisions are 
complied with, any unavoidable circumstance or 
contingency arise so as to reduce the number to 
less than nine, the bishop shall immediately sum- 
mon such elders as do not preside to complete the 

"2. The Council shall have authority to mature 
everything they shall judge expedient, (1.) To pre- 
serve the general union. (2.) To render and preserve 
the external form of worship similar in all our socie- 
ties throughout the continent. (3.) To preserve the 
essentials of Methodist doctrine and discipline pure 
and uncorrupted. (4.) To correct all abuses and dis- 
orders. (5.) To mature everything they may see 
necessary for the good of the Church, and for the 
promotion and improvement of our colleges and 
plan of education. 


"3. Provided, nevertheless, that nothing shall be 
received as the resolution of the Council unless it be 

assented to unanimously by the Council, and nothing 
so assented to by the Council shall bo binding in any 
district (Conference) till it has been agreed upon by 
a majority of the Conference which is held for that 

"4. The bishops shall have authority to summon 
the Council to meet at such times and places as they 
shall judge expedient." 

Though considerable opposition was manifested to 
this plan, and it was regarded as a dangerous inno- 
vation, yet, after due deliberation, it was adopted by 
a majority and became a part of the Discipline of the 
Church. As it may be interesting to the reader, merely 
as a matter of history, we copy from Lee's History of 
Methodism the minutes of the first Council, which was 
held in Baltimore December 1, 1789. The follow- 
ing members were present : Francis Asbury, bishop ; 
Richard Ivy, Reuben Ellis, Edward Morris, James 
O'Kelly, Philip Bruce, Lemuel Green, Nelson Reed, 
Joseph Everitt, John Dickins, James O. Cromwell, 
Freeborn Garrettson, elders." When the Council 
was constituted, an hour was spent in prayer to Al- 
mighty God for his direction and blessing. "They 
then unanimously agreed that a General Conference 
of the bishop, ministers, and preachers of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church on the continent of America 


would be attended with a variety of difficulties, with 
great expense and loss of time, as well as many in- 
conveniences to the work of God." 

The Council then proceeded to form the following 
constitution, embracing its several duties : 

" 1. To render the time and form of public wor- 
ship as similar as possible in all the congregations. 

"2. To preserve the general union of the minis- 
ters, preachers, and people in the Methodist doctrine 
and Discipline. 

" 3. To direct and manage all the printing which 
may be done from time to time for the use and bene- 
fit of the Methodist Church in America. 

" 4. To conduct the plan of education, and manage 
all matters which may from time to time pertain to 
any college or house built or about to be built as 
the property of the Methodist connection. 

" 5. To remove, or receive and appoint the salary 
of any tutors from time to time employed in any 
seminary of learning belonging to the said con- 

" 6. In the interval of the Council the bishop 
shall have power to act in all contingent occurrences 
relative to the printing business or the education and 
economy of the college. 

" 7. Nine members, and no less, shall be competent 
to form a Council, which may proceed to business. 

" 8. No resolution shall be formed in such a Coun- 


cil without the consent of the bishop and two-thirds 
of the members present." 

After adopting the above constitution, the Council 
then passed unanimously the following resolutions : 

" 1. Every resolution of the Council shall be put 
to vote in each Conference, and shall not be adopted 
unless it obtains a majority of the different Confer- 
ences. But every resolution which is received by a 
majority of the several Conferences shall be received 
by every member of each Conference. 

"2. Public worship shall commence at ten o'clock 
on the Lord's day in all places where we have socie- 
ties and regular preaching, if it be practicable, and 
if not at eleven o'clock. 

" 3. The exercises of public worship on the Lord's 
day shall be singing, prayer, and reading the Holy 
Scriptures, with exhortation or reading a sermon in 
the absence of a preacher, and the officiating person 
shall be appointed by the elder, deacon, or traveling 
preacher for the time being. 

"4. For the future no more houses shall be built 
for public worship without the consent and direction 
of the Conference and presiding elder of the district, 
unless a house should be built under the direction of 
the presiding elder and traveling preachers on the 
circuit and finished without the least debt remaining 
on it. 

" 5, It is required that all the parents and guard- 


ians of independent scholars in Cokesbury College 
may punctually pay for the students' tuition and 
board on or before the first of December in every 
year, as none will be continued there more than a 
year on credit, but will be immediately sent home in 
case of non-payment. And for the future, at least 
one fourth of the price of twelve months' board and 
tuition must be sent with every scholar who comes 
from the adjacent states, and half the said price with 
every scholar who comes from any distant state. 

" 6. Every minister, preacher, and private mem- 
ber shall be permitted, and is hereby earnestly re- 
quested, to devise some means, and either bring or 
send his proposals to the next Council for the pur- 
pose of laying some scheme for relieving our dear 
brethren who labor in the extremities of the work 
and do not receive more than six, eight, ten, twelve, 
or fifteen pounds per annum. 

" 7. Every deacon shall be three years in a state 
of probation before he can be elected to the 

" 8. Considering the weight of the connection, the 
concerns of the college, and the printing business, it 
is resolved that another Council shall be held on the 
1st of December, 1790." 

The second Council, which had by this last resolu- 
tion been provided for, was held in pursuance there- 
with in the city of Baltimore. Bishop Asbury, 


F. Garrettson, F. Poytliress, 1ST. Keed, J. Dickins, 
P. Bruce, J. Smith, T. Bowen, J. O. Cromwell, 
J. Everitt, and C. Conoway were present. The first 
business done was to settle the question relating to 
the power with which the electors had invested the 
Council, and this they did by declaring unanimously 
that they were invested with full power to act de- 
cisively in all temporal matters, and that it was their 
prerogative to recommend to the several Conferences 
any new canons or alterations to be made in any old 
ones. Various other matters were disposed of, and 
the Council adjourned to meet again the next year. 
O'Kelly, who had attended the first Council, refused 
to be present ; and such was his opposition, and that 
of Lee and others, to what they regarded as an un- 
warranted assumption of power, that no Council was 
ever afterward held, and it became obvious that 
nothing would meet the wants of the preachers and 
people generally but a General Conference. This 
was agreed to, and accordingly on the 1st day of 
November, 1792, the preachers in the regular work 
collected together from all parts of the country and 
took their seats in General Conference assembled in 
the city of Baltimore. 

Bishops Coke and Asbury being, ex &fficio, the 
presiding officers, the Conference was duly organized 
by the election of the secretaries and the appoint- 
ment of the appropriate committees. The first thing 


brought before the Conference for deliberation and 
action was the Discipline of the Church. Before any 
action, however, was taken upon any subject intro- 
duced to the Conference, certain by-laws were adopted 
for its government, among which was a rule requir- 
ing a two-thirds vote of all the members of the Con- 
ference to adopt any new rule or abolish any old one, 
though a bare majority might suffice to modify or 
amend any rule. As the subject of Discipline came 
under review of the Conference, those parts especi- 
ally which had been the subject of discussion, and re- 
garding the propriety of which there was a difference 
of opinion, were the first to elicit attention. James 
O'Kelly, the presiding elder (above alluded to) over 
a district in Virginia, one of the largest in the con- 
nection, in an early part of the session brought for- 
ward the subject of episcopal power as relating to 
the appointment of the preachers. The question was 
embraced in the following resolution: "Resolved, 
that after the bishop appoints the preachers at the 
Conference to their several circuits, if any one think 
himself injured by the appointment, he shall have 
liberty to appeal to the Conference and state his ob- 
jections; and if the Conference approve his objec- 
tions, the bishop shall appoint him to another cir- 
cuit." This resolution brought the whole subject of 
the episcopacy, and its powers and prerogatives, before 
the Conference. As the discussion would necessarily 


bring the whole administration, involving particularly 
the episcopal acts of Bishop Asbury, before the Con- 
ference, with characteristic liberality, lest any should 
be deterred from speaking out fully his sentiments on 
the subject, the bishop withdrew from the Confer- 
ence-room and forwarded the following letter : 

"Mr DEAR BRETHREN, Let my absence give you 
no pain ; Dr. Coke presides. I am happily excused 
from making laws by which I am myself to be gov- 
erned. I have only to obey and execute. I am 
happy in the consideration that I never stationed a 
preacher through enmity or as a punishment. I 
have acted for the glory of God and the good of the 
people, and to promote the usefulness of the preach- 
ers. Are you sure that, if you please yourselves, the 
people will be as fully satisfied ? They often say : 
c Let us have such a preacher ;' and sometimes, ' We 
will not have such a preacher ; we would sooner pay 
him to stay at home.' Perhaps I must say, c His ap- 
peal forced him upon you.' I am one, ye are many. 
I am as willing to serve you as ever. I want not to 
sit in any man's way. I scorn to solicit votes. I am 
a very trembling, poor creature, to hear praise or dis- 
praise. Speak your minds freely, but remember you 
tire only making laws for the present time. It may 
be that, as in some other things, so in this, a future 
day may give you farther light." 


The discussion of the question lasted for several 
days, and was quite animated on both sides. At 
length, when the period arrived to take the vote, it 
was ascertained that a large majority were in favor 
of continuing with the episcopacy the power given 
to it at the Conference in 1784. It may not be im- 
proper to remark here, that this question was revived 
in what was denominated the "Radical Controversy' 1 
in 1827, and with that of lay delegation, and some 
other matters of Church government, it led finally to 
a secession, the result of which was the organization 
of the Methodist Protestant Church, now a large and 
influential body of Christians. Several of the ablest 
and most distinguished ministers were lost to the 
Church in this controversy ; a calamity which we 
pray may never befall the Church again. 

In Lee's History of Methodism, published in 1810, 
we find the following in relation to the controversy 
in the General Conference on the subject of the ap- 
pointing power, as elicited by the resolution offered 
by O'Kelly : " This motion brought on a long de- 
bate ; the arguments for and against the proposal 
were weighty, and handled in a masterly manner. 
There never had been a subject before us that so 
fully called forth all the strength of the preachers. 
A large majority of them appeared at first to be in 
favor of the motion, but at last Mr. John Dickins 
moved to divide the question thus : First, Shall the 


bishop appoint the preachers to the circuits? And 
secondly, Shall a preacher be allowed an appeal? 
After some debate the motion to divide the question 
prevailed. The first question being then put, it was 
carried without a dissenting voice ; but when we 
came to the second question, namely, Shall a preach- 
er be allowed an appeal ? there was a difficulty start- 
ed, which was, whether this was to be considered a 
new rule, or only an amendment of an old one. If it 
was to be regarded as a new rule, it would require a 
two thirds vote to carry it. After considerable de- 
bate it was decided by vote that it was only an 
amendment of an old rule. Of course, after all the 
lengthy debates, we were just where we began, and 
had to take up the question as it was originally pro- 
posed. One rule for our debates was, that each per- 
son, if he choose, shall have liberty to speak three 
times on each motion. By dividing the question, 
and then corning back to where we were at first, we 
were kept on the subject called the Appeal for two 
or three days. On Monday we began the debate 
afresh and continued it through the day, and at night 
we went to Mr. Otterbein's church and continued it 
till near bedtime, when the vote was taken, and the 
motion was lost by a large majority." 

Having disposed of this difficult subject, the Con- 
ference proceeded to the discussion of the questions 
pertaining to the appointment, ordination, and trial 


of a bishop. The Church being, as we have seen, 
disconnected from the Wesleyan connection, and ex- 
isting as a separate and independent organization, the 
power to appoint a bishop could no longer come from 
without, and the General Conference was hence made 
the source of episcopal power, the exercise of which 
was placed exclusively under its control, holding 
original jurisdiction over all its bishops. 

The question relating to presiding elders was fully 
discussed at this Conference. By the authority of 
the bishop alone a number of circuits had been 
formed into districts, and from the organization of 
the Church, in 1784:, they had been placed under the 
charge of a presiding elder. We say this was done 
by the authority of the bishop, as the Conference had 
made no rules or regulations on the subject. As con- 
siderable objection had been urged against this usage, 
and several expressed doubts as to the authority of 
the bishop in appointing the presiding elders, the 
Conference, under the head of episcopal duties, made 
it the duty of the bishop to appoint the presiding 
elders, and gave him the power to change them at 
pleasure, provided that he should not allow an elder 
to preside over the same district for more than four 
consecutive years. The duties of presiding elders were 
also more specifically defined. Until this Conference 
no provision whatever was made for the support of the 
wives of traveling preachers. If a preacher married, 


his salary of sixty-four dollars remained the same as 
before, the design being evidently to keep up the 
celibacy of the clergy, an example of which was so 
strongly and perseveringly maintained by the bishop. 
The Conference, however, after a thorough investiga- 
tion of this matter, in all its present and prospective 
bearings, adopted a rule allowing the wife an equal 
claim with her husband. The sum total of the allow- 
ance or salary for a Methodist preacher and his fam- 
ily was thus increased to the amount of one hundred 
and twenty-eight dollars. Such was the allowance, 
but it did not follow by any means that this amount 
was received. In numerous instances the half of it 
was not obtained, and the preachers and their wives 
were obliged to live in the most abject poverty, or 
on the most cringing dependence. 

At this Conference John Dickins was reappointed 
agent of the Book Concern in Philadelphia, and for 
his services was allowed a house and book room, and 
six hundred and sixty-six dollars thirty-three cents 
per annum, which was to be paid out of the profits 
arising from the sale of books. The Conference also 
appropriated out of the proceeds of the Book Con- 
cern four thousand dollars, to be paid in four annual 
instalments. Six hundred and sixty-six dollars were 
also appropriated out of the same fund for the benefit 
of distressed preachers, and also the bishop was al- 
lowed to draw annually on the Book Concern the sum 


of sixty-four dollars for the support of district schools. 
The profits of the Book Concern at that time amounted 
annually to about two thousand five hundred dollars. 

Previous to this Conference it was not only con- 
trary to usage, but contrary to the law of the Church 
for any preacher to take a fee for performing the 
marriage ceremony. This, like the other ordinances 
of the Church, was not to be purchased with money, 
and there were some who thought it a species 'of 
simony to take anything for celebrating the rites of 
matrimony. The General Conferences, however, 
came in their deliberations to a different conclusion, 
and allowed those who should be called upon to 
perform this ceremony to receive whatever might 
be given on the occasion. But though the Confer- 
ence allowed preachers to take a fee for performing 
the rites of matrimony, yet the money thus received 
was not to be regarded as their own. The amount 
was placed in the hands of the stewards of the re- 
spective circuits, and equally divided between the 
traveling preachers of the circuit who had not re- 
ceived their full disciplinary allowance. Where 
such necessity for its appropriation did not exist, it 
went into the hands of the District or Annual Confer- 
ence, to be appropriated according to its discretion ; 
in no case, however, was it the property of the 
preacher who performed the ceremony. 

With a view of bringing all the preachers upon a 



level as it regarded salary, and thereby prevent any 
unpleasant feeling that might arise, a rule was adopt- 
ed requiring all the preachers to present an exact 
account of all and singular the presents they might 
have received, either in money or other articles, and 
until this was done no money could be appropriated 
to him from any fund or collections to make up 

The Conference, also, with a view to prevent 
any imposition upon the societies from unworthy 
members, or those who were impostors outright, 
adopted a rule requiring all members, on their 
removal to another society, to take a certificate of 
good standing, and this rule remains in force to 
this day. The rules, however, relating to salaries, 
marriage fees, and presents, have long since become 
obsolete, and have passed away from the Discipline. 
Though the salary nominally allowed a preacher is 
one hundred dollars, and his wife the same, with a 
small sum for each of his children under a certain 
age, together with his traveling, fuel, and table 
expenses, yet under these heads, especially the latter, 
our ministers at the present day can receive in 
salary, table expenses, presents, and marriage fees, 
any amount. Some we know of who receive annu- 
ally on these accounts from two to three thousand 
dollars. As a whole, however, the Methodist ministry 
are poorly paid, many of them on the poorer cir- 


cuits not receiving more than two or three hundred 
dollars, and some even less. 

An important rule on the subject of arbitration 
was adopted at this Conference. This rule had 
special reference to the settlement of disputes 
arising between brethren in regard to debts. It 
has been modified from time to time, and has 
proved of great service in preventing litigation, and 
keeping " brother from going to law with brother." 
The chapter relating to the manner of conducting 
public worship was inserted in the Discipline at this 
Conference, and with slight modifications from time 
time still remains. 

Asbury in his Journal, alluding to this Conference, 
and the opposition manifested against the appointing 
power, says : " Perhaps a new bishop, new Confer- 
ence, and new laws would have better pleased some. 
I have been much grieved for others, and distressed 
with the burden I bear, and must hereafter bear. O 
my soul, enter into rest! Some of the preachers 
having their jealousies about my influence in the 
Conference, I gave the matter wholly up to them and 
to Dr. Coke, who presided. I am not fond of alter- 
cations ; we cannot please everybody, and sometimes 
not ourselves. Mr. O'Kelly being disappointed in 
not getting an appeal from any station made by me, 
withdrew from the connection and went off. For 
himself, the Conference well knew that he could not 


complain of the regulation. He had been located in 
the Southern District of Yirginia for about ten suc- 
cessive years, and upon his plan might have located 
himself and any preacher or set of preachers to the 
district, whether the people wished to have them or 
not. The General Conference went through the Dis- 
cipline, Articles of Faith, Forms of Baptism, Matri- 
mony, and the Burial of the Dead, as also the Offices 
and Ordination. The Conference ended in peace, 
after providing for another General Conference, to be 
held four years afterward. By desire of the breth- 
ren, I preached once on 1 Peter iii, 8. My mind was 
kept in peace, and my soul enjoyed rest in the 



Second Decade of Methodism passed Eesults of Twenty-six Years 
Position of the Church Southern Tour "Whitefield's Orphan House 
in Georgia Melancholy Eeflections Asbury crosses the Wilderness 
-Sick Continental Tour Great Sickness in New York Few 
Preachers at Conference Yellow Fever in Philadelphia Day of Fast- 
ing, Humiliation, and Prayer Pestilence in Maryland Pass from a 
Health Officer Preaches in Baltimore Takes up Winter Quarters at 
Charleston Midnight Journey Father Harper's Plantation As- 
bury at Baltimore June, 1794 Portrait taken at request of Preachers 

Original Picture in possession of Baltimore Methodist Historical So- 
ciety Travels to Boston Remarks New York Conference Preach- 
ing Yellow Fever at Baltimore Whisky Insurrection in the West 

Charleston Eough Treatment Leaves the South Trip North- 
ward At New York Fourth of July Eev. Mr. Ogden's Work on 
Eevealed Eeligion New England Grave of Embury at Ashgrove 
Eesidence of Garrettson Governor Van Cortlandt At the Mansion 
of his friend Wells in Charleston His Slaves Asbury's Labors in 
Charleston "Ben," the Half-blood Indian Warrior Thrilling Ac- 
count of Mrs. Dickenson Constitution for a Eelief Fund Asbury in 
New York Explains the Discipline to the Leaders His Definition 
of Schism New England Conference Eumors of Yellow Fever 
Crossing the Bay in a Storm Conference at Philadelphia Short 
Sketch of Benjamin Abbott. 

THE second decade of Methodism in America had 
passed, and the middle of the third had been reached 
at the session of the first General Conference. What 
mighty results had been achieved through the instru- 
mentality of the pioneer missionaries during the 
period of twenty-six years ! In considerably less 
than one generation, the Methodist Church in Amer- 
ica had risen from the smallest and feeblest begin- 


nings to a large denomination, embracing the whole 
country, from Maine to Georgia, in the field of its 
operations, besides including portions of the province 
of Canada. From a small society, composed, as we 
have seen, of six persons, who met to listen to the 
instructions of a carpenter in his rude shop on Bar- 
rack-street, ISTew York, the number had increased to 
sixty-five thousand; and instead of one local preacher, 
there were two hundred and sixty-six engaged in 
the regular work, besides hundreds who, like Embury, 
labored with their hands for a support during the 
week, and on Sabbaths visited destitute localities, 
preaching the Gospel without fee or reward. From 
a feeble and unorganized society, without the ordi- 
nances and without a " regularly authorized ministry," 
Methodism had risen up to take its position with an 
ordained ministry, and the full possession of all the 
ordinances as a separate and distinct organization 
among the Churches of the land. 

After the session of the General Conference Asbury 
started out on his Southern tour, and traveled as far 
as Georgia. While at Savannah he visited the ruins 
of Whitefield's Orphan House. He gazed with 
melancholy interest upon the blackened walls, and 
recognized among the ruins the copper-plate inscrip- 
tion which had been inserted in the main building. 
While Whitefield was eating his last dinner at this 
house, it is said he remarked as follows : " This 


house was built for God, and cursed be the man that 
puts it to any other use." Asbuiy was led to the 
following reflections in regard to this enterprise : " I 
reflect upon the present ruin of the Orphan House, 
and taking a view of the money expended, the per- 
sons employed, the preachers sent over, I was led to 
inquire, where are they ? The earth, the army, the 
Baptists, the Episcopal Church, the Independents, 
have swallowed them all up at this windmill of the 
continent. A wretched country this ; but there are 
souls, precious souls, worth worlds." 

From Georgia he passed through the country and 
returned by way of Kentucky, crossing the wilderness 
to Virginia, and thus on through New Jersey to New 
York. From hence he passed through Connecticut 
and Massachusetts and returned to New York. In 
all this tour he was in labors more abundant, preach- 
ing at every point, and superintending the various 
business connected with the Conferences. Though he 
had been sick four months of the time, yet he had 
traveled three thousand miles since General Confer- 
ence. When he returned to the city of New York he 
found great sickness prevailing. But few preachers 
attended the Conference, on account of the pestilence. 
While here he received intelligence of the prevalence 
of yellow fever in Philadelphia, and was dissuaded 
from going to that place, as it would be attended 
with great danger. But duty called, and he felt that 


in following the behests of duty he -was safe, ay, even 
immortal till his work was done. The following:, 


which we find in his Journal of Friday, 6th of Sep- 
tember, will show the state of the city at that time : 
" All how the ways mourn ! how low spirited are the 
people while making their escape ! I found it awful 
indeed. I judge the people die from fifty to one 
hundred in a day ; some of our friends are dying, 
others flying. Sabbath I preached on the text, i Cry 
aloud, spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and 
show my people their transgressions, and the house 
of Jacob their sins.' The people of this city are 
alarmed, and well they may be. I went down to 
Ebenezer Church, but my strength was gone ; how- 
ever, I endeavored to open and apply Micah vi, 9 : 
' The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man 
of wisdom shall see thy name : hear ye the rod, and 
who hath appointed it.' The streets are now depop- 
ulated, and the city wears a gloomy aspect. Poor 
Philadelphia! 'The lofty city, He layeth it low.'" 
The preachers, in view of the calamity, appointed a 
day of fasting and humiliation, and after Sabbath left 
the city ; but Asbury remained. 

The pestilence also prevailed in Maryland, and on 
his route he stopped at a quarterly meeting at the 
Cross Roads, where he preached from the text, " Yea, 
in the way of thy judgments have we waited for thee." 
In this discourse he showed that God sent pestilence 


famine, blasting, and mildew, and that only the 
Church, and the people of God know and believe his 
judgments; that God's people waited for him in the 
way of his judgments, and that they improved and 
profited by them. Having been in the infected re- 
gion, he could not travel without a pass from the 
health officer, and hence, when he was en route for 
Baltimore, he found a guard stationed one hundred 
miles from the place. At Baltimore he preached from 
the words, " Give glory to God before he cause dark- 
ness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark 
mountains, and while ye look for light he turn it into 
the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." 
Having delivered his testimony, he proceeded to An- 
napolis, and then returned to meet the Conference in 
Baltimore. From hence he started out on his south- 
ern tour. This year he declined going to the West, 
and gave the following as his reasons : " The Ameri- 
can Alps, the deep snows and great rains, swimming 
the creeks and rivers, riding in the night, sleeping 
on earthen floors, more or less of which I must expe- 
rience if I go to the western country, might cost me 
my life. I have only been able to preach four times in 
three weeks." He accordingly proceeded i n the wi\d 
took up his winter- quarters at Charlestr ^g southern 
describes as "the seat of Satan, dissipati concluded to 
The following description of a m' is place. The 
in North Carolina at this time will seth, though the 


men of many of Asbury's adventures in traveling : 
"At length we came to Howe's Ford, on the Catawba 
Kiver, where we could get neither canoe nor guide. 
We entered the river at the wrong place, and 
were soon among the rocks and in the whirlpools. 
My head swam and my horse was affrighted ; the 
water was to my knees, and it was with difficulty we 
retreated to the same shore. My horse being afraid 
to take to the water a second time, my companion 
crossed over, and sent me his horse, the guide which 
had been procured from the other side taking mine 
across. We passed on ; but our troubles were not at 
an end. It was very dark, and rained heavily, ac- 
companied with tremendous lightning and thunder. 
We lost our path and wandered in the wilderness past 
midnight until we struck one, which we followed. 
This path fortunately led us to dear old father Har- 
per's plantation. We made for the house, and called. 
He answering, but wondering who it could be, in- 
quired whence we came. I told him we would tell 
him when he let us in, for it was raining so powerfully 
we had no time to talk. When I came dripping 
into ^-^ T-ouse he cried, ( God bless your soul, is it 

Brother As j get , 

In June, 1 *rg^ j ie arr i ve( j at Baltimore, and worn 
and weary sou^ a Httle regt While here he had 
his portrait take^ at ^ request of the pre achers. In 
regard to this 1^ gayg . It geemg ^ wiu want fl 


copy ; if they wait longer perhaps they will rniss it. 
Those who have gone from us in Virginia (alluding 
to the O'Kelly secession) have drawn a picture of 
me which is not taken from the life" The original 
portrait of the venerable bishop is in possession of the 
Baltimore Methodist Historical Society. From Bal- 
timore the bishop started out on his northern tour, 
passing through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New 
York, and Connecticut to Massachusetts. In Boston 
he writes : " Like our Lord we had to preach in an 
upper room, but we shall yet have a work in Boston." 
On his return he held a Conference at New York. 
While here he preached on Sabbath in John-street in 
the morning, and in Forsyth-street in the afternoon. 
The next Sabbath he preached in the new church in 
Brooklyn. Intelligence came to him of the raging of 
the yellow fever at Baltimore, and the insurrection in 
the West on account of the excise law relative to the 
manufacture of whisky. 

Again he started south, and meeting with the usual 
incidents on the way, of swimming rivers, wading 
swamps, riding all day in the rain, and nearly all 
night in the dark, preaching as he went "in weari- 
ness and painfulness," and often "in perils in the wil- 
derness," he at length reached Charleston, his southern 
home. To save himself, if possible, he concluded to 
spend a portion of the winter in this place. The 
mild climate was favorable to his health, though the 


city was exceedingly offensive to his morals. He 
was frequently insulted in the streets, and while en- 
gaged in prayer with a few persons, those outside 
would shout at him in derision. 

While here at this time he was unusually dejected. 
He says in his Journal : " I have been lately more 
subject to melancholy than for many years past, 
and how can I help it ; the white and the worldly 
people are intolerably ignorant of God ; playing, 
dancing, swearing, racing, these are their common 
practices and pursuits. Our few male members 
do not attend preaching, and I fear there is hardly 
one who walks with God ; the women and Africans 
attend our meetings, and some strangers also. Per- 
haps it may be necessary for me to know how 
wicked the world is that I may do more as a presi- 
dent minister. There is some similarity between 
my stay here and at Bath." Further on he says : 
"The people have high work below stairs, laid off 
for each day this week. The western regiment pa- 
rades to-day, the eastern to-morrow. Wednesday 
is the president's birthday ; Thursday, Friday, and 
Saturday, come on the races. I intend to keep close 
to my room, except when attending meetings in the 
evenings ; I am in a furnace, may I come out purified 
like gold." When the period arrived for his leaving he 
preached a parting discourse. The congregation was 
very large, and he remarked that if the people were 


prudent, and the preachers faithful, there would be a 
work of the Lord even in that " seat of wickedness." 
When spring returned to melt the frozen fetters of 
the North, he left the sunny South and entered upon 
his itinerant career. After attending Conference at 
Holstein, he crossed the mountains and proceeded 
along the valley between the Blue Ridge and the 
Alleghanies, to the head waters of the Shenandoah, 
which he followed to its mouth, crossing the Potomac 
near Harper's Ferry, and proceeding to Baltimore. 
In seven days he rode two hundred and twenty-seven 
miles. From thence he bent his course for New 
York, where he arrived on the 4th of July, amid 
the ringing of bells, the firing of cannon, and the 
shouts of liberty. The Rev. Mr. Ogden, of New 
York, presented him on this visit with a copy of his 
work on Revealed Religion, being an answer to 
Paine's Age of Reason. He took from hence his tour 
through New England on the old route, and on his 
return for the first time visited Yermont. During 
this visit he had an opportunity of seeing the 
grave of Embury at Ashgrove. He visited the 
residence of Garrettson at Rhinebeck, one of the 
first native American Methodist preachers, a faith- 
ful devoted, and talented minister of the Gospel, 
cheerfully submitting to all privations, shrinking 
from no toils or hardships, bearing all perse- 
cutions for the sake of his Master, and among 

286 LIFE AND TI.MKS ol- 

the lirst to bear the glad tidings of salvation to 
Wi'stmi Ni-w York. He also visited Governor 
Yan Cortlandt at Crotou, whose princely mansion 
was always open for Methodist preachers, and who 
afterward dedicated a magnificent grove near his 
residence as a place for holding the yearly camp- 
meeting. As bury could appreciate and enjoy hospi- 
tality, and though he never courted, yet when Provi- 
dence opened his way he never shunned the society 
of the wealthy. After having toiled through, the 
wilderness, sleeping in cabins or in the woods, and 
living on the coarsest fare, he would enjoy the rest 
and comfort afforded at the mansions of Mr. Yan 
Pelt on Staten Island, Judge White in Delaware, 
General Russell in Holstein, Mr. "Wells in Charles- 
ton, General Lippett in Kew York, Mr. Phelps in 
Yirginia, Mr. Johnson in Massachusetts, Governors 
Worthington and Tiffin in Ohio, and several others 
in different sections of the country. 

On his southern tour we find him again at the 
mansion of his old friend Wells in Charleston. An 
incident occurred here which shows how deeply As- 
bury sympathized with the colored people. He 
says : " I was happy last evening with the poor slaves 
in Brother Wells's kitchen, while our white brother 
(the stationed preacher) held a sacramental love-feast 
in the front parlor up stairs." During his stay in the 
city this time, which was about two months, he at- 


tended the business of the Conference, preached 
eighteen sermons, met fifteen classes, wrote eighty 
letters, besides more than three hundred pages on 
subjects interesting to the Church, read several books, 
and visited thirty families again and again, and yet 
in the review of all this he asks : " What have I done? 
who are made the subjects of grace?" We doubt if 
there are any regular pastors without any other 
duties who can present an exhibit of labor in their 
charges superior to this. 

On his return trip, in crossing the ridge which 
runs through Russell county, Virginia, he says of the 
people : " They have lived in peace ever since the 
death of Ben, the half-blood Indian warrior, who was 
shot through the head while carrying off two women. 
He was a dreadfully wicked wretch, and had been 
the agent of death to nearly one hundred people in 
the wilderness and on Russell." While in this section 
of the country he inserts the following in his Journal : 
" This day in the evening Brother Kobler was called 
upon to perform the funeral services of Mrs. F. Dick- 
enson, who has been as great a female sufferer as I 
ever heard of. She was married to a Mr. Scott, and 
lived in Powell's Yalley ; at which time the Indians 
were very troublesome, often killing and plundering 
the inhabitants. On a certain evening, her husband 
and children being in bed, eight or nine Indians 
rushed into the house ; her husband being alarmed, 


started up, when all that had guns fired at him. Al- 
though he was badly wounded, he broke through 
them all, and got out of the house. Several of them 
closely pursued him, and put an end to his life. 
They then murdered and scalped all her children be- 
fore her eyes, plundered her house, and took her 
prisoner. The remainder of the night they spent 
around a fire in the woods, drinking, shouting, and 
dancing. The next day they divided the plunder 
with great equality ; among the rest of the goods was 
one of Mr. Wesley's hymn-books ; she asked them for 
it, and they gave it to her ; but when they saw her 
often reading therein they were displeased, called her 
a conjurer, and took it from her. After this they 
traveled several days' journey toward the Indian 
towns ; but, said she, my grief was so great I could 
hardly believe my situation was a reality, but thought 
I dreamed. To aggravate my grief, one of the In- 
dians hung my husband's and my children's scalps. to 
his back, and would walk the next before me. In 
walking up and down the hills and mountains, I was 
worn out with fatigue and sorrow ; they would often 
laugh when they saw me almost spent, and mimic my 
panting for breath. There was one Indian who was 
more humane than the rest. He would get me 
water, and make the others stop when I wanted to 
rest. Thus they carried me on eleven days' journey, 
until they were all greatly distressed with hunger. 


They then committed me to the care of an old Indian 
at the camp, while they went off a hunting. 

" While the old man was busily employed in dress- 
ing a deer-skin, I walked backward and forward 
through: the woods, until I observed he took no notice 
of me. I then slipped off, and ran a considerable 
distance and came to a cane-brake, where I hid my- 
self very securely. Through most of the night I 
heard the Indians searching for me, and answering 
each other with a voice like that of an owl. Thus 
was I left alone in the savage wilderness, far from 
any inhabitants, without a morsel of food, or any 
friend to help, but the common Saviour and friend of 
all : to him I poured out my complaint in fervent 
prayer that he would not forsake me in this distress- 
ing circumstance. I then set out the course that I 
thought Kentucky lay, though with very little expec- 
tation of seeing a human face again, except that of 
the savages, whom I looked upon as so many fiends 
from the bottomless pit ; and my greatest dread was 
that of meeting some of them while wandering in the 

" One day as I was traveling, I heard a loud human 
voice, and a prodigious noise, like horses running. I 
ran into a safe place and hid myself, and saw a com- 
pany of Indians pass by, furiously driving a gang of 
horses which they had stolen from the white people. 
I had nothing to subsist upon but roots, young grape- 



vines, and sweet-cane, and such, like produce of the 
woods. I accidentally came where a bear was eating 
a deer, and drew near in hopes of getting some ; but 
he growled and looked angry, so I left him, and 
quickly passed on. At night, when I lay down to 
rest, I never slept but I dreamed of eating. In my 
lonesome travels I came to a very large shelving 
rock, under which was a fine bed of leaves. I crept 
in among them, and determined there to end my days 
of sorrow. I lay there several hours, until my bones 
ached in so distressing a manner that I was obliged 
to stir out again. I then thought of, and wished for 
home ; and traveled on several days, till I came where 
Cumberland River breaks through the mountain. 

"I went down the cliffs a considerable distance, 
until I was affrighted, and made an attempt to go 
back, but found the place, down which I had gone, 
was so steep that I could not return. I then saw but 
one way that I could go, which was a considerable 
perpendicular distance down to the bank of the river. 
I took hold of the top of a little bush and for half an 
hour prayed fervently to God for assistance. I then 
let myself down by the little bush until it broke, 
and I went with great violence down to the bottom. 
This was early in the morning, and I lay there a con- 
siderable time, with a determination to go no farther. 
About ten o'clock I grew so thirsty, that I concluded 
to crawl to the water and drink, after which I found 


I could walk. The place I came through, as I have 
been since informed, is only two miles, and I was 
four days in getting through it. I traveled on until 
I came to a little path, one end of which led to the 
inhabitants, and the other to the wilderness. I knew 


not which end of the path to take. After standing 
and praying to the Lord for direction, I turned to 
take the end that led to the wilderness. Imme- 
diately there came a little bird of a dove-color near 
to my feet, and fluttered along the path that led to 
the inhabitants. I did not observe this much at first, 
until it did it a second or third time. I then under- 
stood this as a direction of Providence, and took the 
path which led me to the inhabitants. 

" Immediately after her safe arrival she embraced 
religion, and lived and died a humble follower of 

From this point Asbury pursued his journey until 
he arrived in Baltimore, where he made a review of 
his southern travels since leaving that place, as fol- 
lows : " From the best judgment I can form, the dis- 
tance is as follows : from Baltimore to Charleston, S. 
C., one thousand miles ; thence up the state of South 
Carolina, two hundred miles ; from the center to the 
west of Georgia, two hundred miles ; through North 
Carolina, one hundred miles ; through the state of 
Tennessee, one hundred miles ; through the west of 
Virginia, three hundred miles ; through Pennsylvania 


and the west of Maryland, and down to Baltimore, 
four hundred miles. It will be seen that this tour of 
two thousand three hundred miles did not embrace the 
wilderness of Kentucky and Ohio, the most dangerous 
and difficult portion included in his annual round. 

While in Philadelphia, on his northern tour, he 
drew up a constitution for. a general fund, designed 
for the support of the traveling ministry, and to be 
applied, first, to the single men that suffer and are in 
want ; second, to the married traveling preachers ; 
third, to the worn-out preachers ; fourth, to the wid- 
ows and orphans of those who have died in the work ; 
fifth, to enable the annual conferences to employ 
more married men; and lastly, to supply the wants of 
all the traveling preachers, under certain regulations 
and restrictions, as the state of the fund would admit. 

New York seems to have been one of the fields of 
his greatest labors. Frequently we find him preach- 
ing three times and visiting six classes on one Sab- 
bath, an amount of labor that none of his successors 
the of present day would think of performing. On 
one occasion, after preaching twice on the Sabbath 
to sixteen hundred hearers each time, he said : 
" The preachers had pity upon me, and desired me 
only to preach twice." While in this city, in 1796, 
he found it necessary to call a meeting of the lead- 
ers of the different classes for the purpose of explain- 
ing the Discipline in regard to the right of the 


preacher in charge to expel members when tried 
before them, or a select number of them, and found 
guilty of a breach of the law of God and the rules of 
the Church. He also explained the nature of an 
appeal. On the subject of schism he made the follow- 
ing remark : " Schism is not dividing hypocrites from 
hypocrites, formal professors from people of their 
own caste. It is not dividing nominal Episcopalians 
from each other, nominal Methodists from nominal 
Methodists, or nominal Quakers from nominal 
Quakers ; but schism is the dividing real Christians 
from each other, and breaking the unity of the 
Spirit." This is the true apostolic definition of 
schism, which consists in " rending the body of 
Christ," and not in any disruption of a false Church. 
From New York Asbury passed on through JSTew 
England, preaching everywhere, " in labors more 
abundant," and looking with a fatherly anxiety over 
all the interests of the Church. Returning to New 
York, he made preparations for the approaching Con- 
ference. When the period arrived, several preachers 
were detained at home on account of rumors of yel- 
low fever in the city. Enough, however, arrived to 
attend to the business of the Conference, and a 
peaceful, profitable session was held. After preach- 
ing in John-street and in the new church, Asbury 
ordained eight deacons and seven elders, the services 
connected with which required him to be on his feet 


six hours in the course of the day. On Monday, not 
being able to find a passage at Powles Hook, on 
account of the stormy weather, two of the preachers 
went to Whitehall, where they found a boat which, 
in the language of Asbury, "would sail, sink, or 
swim for Van Deezen's Landing, on Staten Island." 
He felt rather reluctant about entering the craft and 
braving the dangers, but finally embarked. He says : 
" We passed the bay, ten miles over, in the space of 
an hour. When we were within one mile of the 
dock the wind shifted and blew powerfully ; the 
people on shore were alarmed, and had the skiff 
ready to take us up, expecting w r e should fill and sink, 
or be beaten off and strike the rocks. After a time 
we secured the boat, and landed the men, but left 
the landing of the horses for better weather." 

At Philadelphia he preached in the Ebenezer and 
St. George's Churches, to large and attentive con- 
gregations. At the Conference there were present 
between forty and fifty preachers, and the session 
was characterized by great harmony and prosperity. 
For the first time since Asbury had been on the con- 
tinent, it was announced that sufficient money had 
been raised to pay the salaries of all the preachers, 
and besides there was a surplus of two hundred dol- 
lars, which was appropriated to relieve the preachers 
from embarrassment and pay their debts. From 
hence the bishop directed his course toward Balti- 


more, where the General Conference was to be held 
in November. 

One of the remarkable men in the itinerancy of 
the times about which we are now writing, was 
Benjamin Abbott. He was a man of great simplicity 
of manner and good native talents, though entirely 
uncultivated. His success as a preacher was of the 
most wonderful character. Wherever he went crowds 
were attracted to hear him, and he rarely preached a 
sermon that was not attended with immediate results 
in the conversion of souls. Beyond his Bible and 
Hymn Book he did not extend his studies, but seem- 
ed to have been shut up to them entirely. He had 
deep experience in spiritual things, and his labors 
were characterized with great faith and zeal. Hav- 
ing strong faith, all his movements partook of its 
nature, and he as confidently expected souls would be 
converted as that the Gospel was preached. It was 
this element in his character that gave him such 
power in preaching, and made him one of the most 
successful ministers of his day. He traveled, like 
most of the preachers of that day, over a wide extent 
of country, and precious fruits of his ministry were 
gathered in all parts of the land. Of the graces of 
oratory or elocution he knew nothing ; a child of 
nature, he obeyed her impulses alone, and with a 
heart full of love to God and love to man, he was 
like a minister from Pentecost, with a heart of fire 


and a tongue of flame. Hence his word was with 
power, and none could resist the eloquence or gain- 
say the wisdom with which he spoke. His last 
labors were on the eastern shore of Maryland, and a 
tire was kindled throughout the length and breadth 
of the peninsula which burns even to this day. Like 
the holy lamp of the sanctuary, he was a flame ever 
burning ; but in serving others he consumed himself, 
and thus literally burned out his life, a living sacri- 
fice to the holy cause in which he was engaged. 
Thus lived and thus died this wonderful man. 



General Conference in Baltimore in 1796 Number of Preachers present 

Cradle of Southern Methodism Quadrennial Greetings Address 
of British Conference Number of Conferences Boundaries Deed 
of Settlement Candidates for Deacon's and Elder s Orders Arrange- 
ments for Publication of Books Monthly Magazine Eules for 
Seminaries of Learning Charter Fund Preacher's Fund merged 
Kegulations in regard to Marriage Use and Sale of Ardent Spirits 
Subject of African Slavery Declaration Address to the British 
Conference Southern Tour Attack of Fever Coke and What coat 

Unpleasant Incident Mr. Wesley displeased Asbury's Love of 
American Methodism Light-street Church and Asbury College de- 
stroyed by Fire Dangerous Illness of Mr. Wells Death Tribute 
to his Memory Dr. Coke's Oration Notes on the Discipline Spring 

Gap in the Mountain Widow Sherwood's Dumb Sabbaths Ke- 
view of Labors Jesse Lee in Maine Noble Band of New England 
Itinerants The eccentric Father Moodie Conference at Eeadfield 
Preaches in Portland -Keturns Yellow Fever in New York Death 
of John Dickins Testimonial Conference in Philadelphia and New 
York Accompanied by Lee to the South Intelligence of Washing- 
ton's Death Sermon on the Occasion Snethen A great Favorite. 

IN the fourth decade of Methodism in this country 
we shall embrace the General Conference held in 
Baltimore on the 19th of November, 1796. About 
one hundred preachers were present at this Confer- 
ence, and the session began under the most favorable 
auspices. It was an occasion of great interest to see 
those hardy sons of itinerant toil assembled together 
from the extremes of the continent in that cradle of 
southern Methodism, the Light-street Church. The 
first thing they did was to receive the fraternal 


quadrennial greetings of their brethren in England. 
Though Wesley and the first class of itinerants asso- 
ciated with him had closed their career and entered 
into rest, their successors still retained an ardent at- 
tachment to all the members of the wide-spread 
family of Methodism. In their address the British 
Conference say : " We see an absolute necessity of 
strictly adhering to our first principles, by firmly sus- 
taining our original doctrines, and that plan and dis- 
cipline which we have so long proved to be the very 
sinews of our body. Herein we doubt not you are 
likeminded with us. We consider you a branch of 
the same root from which we sprung, and of which 
we can never think but with inexpressible gratitude. 
We congratulate you on the honor which our blessed 
Lord has put upon you in crowning your endeavors 
with such amazing success, and blessing you with the 
enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, for which 
we also have great cause to be thankful." 

Up to this period in the history of the Church the 
bishops exercised discretionary power in appointing 
as many Annual Conferences as they judged expedi- 
ent for the convenience of the preachers and people ; 
but as the General Conference possessed the legisla- 
tive power to make rules and regulations, it was 
deemed best at this session to settle definitely the 
question in regard to their number, and also to define 
the respective boundaries of each. Accordingly the 


number of Conferences agreed upon was six, with the 
proviso that should it be considered essential to the 
demands of the work in New England, the bishop 
might organize an additional one in the province of 
Maine. The following were the Conferences author- 
ized to be holden : 

1st. The New England Conference, embracing the 
states included under that name, and so much of the 
State of New York as lay east of Hudson River. 

2d. The Philadelphia Conference, embracing the 
remainder of the State of New York, New Jersey, all 
that part of Pennsylvania lying east of Susquehanna 
River, the State of Delaware, and the remainder of 
the peninsula. 

3d. The Baltimore Conference, including the re- 
mainder of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and the 
Northern Neck of Virginia. 

4th. The Virginia Conference, embracing all that 
part of the state lying south of Rappahannock River, 
and all that part of North Carolina lying on the north 
side of Cape Fear River, including also the circuits 
on the branches of the Yadkin. 

5th. The South Carolina Conference, embracing 
South Carolina, Georgia, and the remainder of North 

6th. The Western Conference, embracing the States 
of Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Among the reasons given by the General Confer- 


ence for its action in the establishment of these Con- 
ferences, we find the following : " For several years 
the Annual Conferences were very small, consisting 
only of the preachers of a single district, or of two or 
three very small ones. This was attended with many 
inconveniences. There were but few of the senior 
preachers whose years and experience had matured 
their judgments who could be present at any one 
Conference ; and, besides, the Conferences wanted 
that dignity which every religious synod should pos- 
sess, and which always accompanies a large assem- 
bly of Gospel ministers. The itinerant plan was 
exceedingly cramped from the difficulty of removing 
preachers from one district to another. To all which 
it may be added that the active, zealous, unmarried 
preachers may move on a larger scale, and preach 
the ever blessed Gospel far more extensively through 
the sixteen states and other parts of the continent ; 
while the married preachers, whose circumstances 
require them in many instances to be more local in 
their sphere of labor than the single men, will have 
a considerable field of action opened to them, and 
also the bishops will be able to attend the Confer- 
ences with greater ease and without injury to their 

For the purpose of securing the church edifices 
which had been built for the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, a plan of a deed of settlement was adopted 


by the Conference. The qualifications necessary for 
such as were candidates for elder's orders were also 
agreed upon and defined. Certain arrangements 
were made in regard to the publication of books, 
and also in relation to the management of the press, 
which were deemed important. The Conference de- 
cided upon establishing a monthly magazine. They 
also adopted a system of rules for the regulation of 
all the seminaries of learning under the patronage 
and control of the Church, which are alluded to else- 
where. A Chartered Fund, to be sustained by volun- 
tary contributions, the principal stock of which was 
to be funded under the direction of trustees, and the 
interest accruing applied by order of the General 
Conference, was also established. The stock of the 
Preachers' Fund was merged into that of the Chartered 
Fund, and the annual profits of the Book Concern 
were appropriated to increase the stock. It was 
agreed that the money subscribed for the fund might 
be lodged on proper security in the states respec- 
tively where it had been subscribed, provided the 
securities were such as the trustees in Philadelphia 
approved. The sole design in the establishment of 
this fund was to secure to the Church the services of 
those ministers who otherwise, from sheer necessity, 
would have been obliged to retire from the work, 
and engage in some' secular employment for the sup- 
port of their families. 

'2 Li; H A XI) TIMES OF 

Regulations were made at this Conference in regard 
to the subject of marriage of such a nature as to 
prohibit a member of the Church from marrying one 
who was not a member, or at least an awakened 
person, and requiring all who had the charge of 
circuits to enforce the discipline in all such cases, 
and exclude them from the Church. The Conference 
also gave directions in regard to the use and sale of 
ardent spirits; and while it protested against any 
design whatever to trench upon the civil or religious 
liberty of any members of the Church, yet it con- 
sidered the use of ardent spirits, unless in cases of 
necessity, and their sale, unless for mechanical, 
chemical, or medicinal purposes, such a crying evil 
that it was called upon, under the circumstances, 
to legislate against them. The subject of African 
slavery, which had more or less excited the attention 
of the Conferences from time to time, was also 
brought before this General Conference, and became 
a matter of serious and deliberate investigation. 
The members believed it their duty to seek in all 
proper legitimate ways the extirpation of the evil. 
The following were the regulations adopted : 

" We declare that we are more than ever convinced 
of the great evil of African slavery, which still exists 
in these United States, and do most earnestly recom- 
mend to the yearly Conferences, quarterly meetings, 
and to those who have the oversight of districts and 


circuits, to be exceedingly cautious what persons 
they admit to official stations in our Church ; and in 
the case of future admission to official stations, to 
require such security of those who hold slaves, for the 
emancipation of them immediately or gradually, as 
the laws of the states respectively and. the circum- 
stances of the case will admit. And we do fully 
authorize all the yearly "Conferences to make what- 
ever regulations they judge proper in the present 
case respecting the admission of persons to official 
stations in our Church. No slaveholder shall be 
received into the society till the preacher who has 
the oversight of the circuit has spoken to him freely 
and faithfully on the subject of slavery. Every 
member of the society who sells a slave shall, imme- 
diately after full proof, be excluded the society ; and 
if any member of our society purchase a slave, the 
ensuing quarterly meeting shall determine on the 
number of years in which the slave so purchased 
would work out the price of his purchase. And the 
person so purchasing shall, immediately after such 
determination, execute a legal instrument for the 
manumission of such slave at the expiration of the 
term determined by the Quarterly Conference ; and 
in default of his executing such instrument of manu- 
mission, or on his refusal to submit his case to the 
judgment of the quarterly meeting, such member shall 
be excluded the society. Provided, also , that in the 


case of a female slave it shall be inserted in the afore- 
said instrument of manumission that all her children 
which shall be born during the years of her servitude 
shall be free at the following times, namely, every 
female child at the age of twenty-one, and every 
male child at the age of twenty-five. Nevertheless, 
if the member of our society executing the said in- 
strument of manumission judge it proper, he may fix 
the times of manumission of the children of the female 
slaves before mentioned at an earlier age than that 
which is prescribed above. The preachers and other 
members of our society are requested to consider the 
subject of negro slavery with deep attention till the 
ensuing General Conference, and that they impart 
to the General Conference, through the medium of 
the yearly Conferences or otherwise, any important 
thoughts upon the subject, that the Conference may 
have full light in order to take further steps toward 
the eradicating this enormous evil from that part of 
the Church of God to which they are united." 

An address was drawn up by a committee appointed 
for that purpose to the British Conference. Among 
other items contained in this address we find the 
following : 

" We candidly confess that we were very fearful, 
when the Lord took that eminent man, Rev. John 
"Wesley, to his reward, that division would take place 
among you from the delicate circumstances in which 


you were placed. Among you he superintended for 
half a century to the admiration we had almost said 
of the entire civilized world. But our God is infi- 
nitely kind to us all. He has preserved both you and 
us in a wonderful manner. We rejoice in your union, 
and can bless God that we were never more united 
than at present. A few, indeed, who were as great 
enemies to the civil government under which they 
lived as to our Discipline, have left us, and we have 
now not a jarring string among us. At present you 
have the largest field of action in respect to the num- 
ber of souls ; but we are humbly endeavoring to sow 
those seeds of grace which may grow up and spread 
in this immense country, which in ages to come will 
probably be the habitation of hundreds of millions." 
At the close of this Conference Asbury started out 
upon his Southern tour. His constitution, though 
naturally robust, had been undermined and shat- 
tered by disease. Exposure in all weathers, con- 
nected with excessive labors, brought on long attacks 
of inflammatory fever. He rode during this tour six 
hundred miles with a fever on him. Having Coke 
and Whatcoat as traveling companions, he was saved 
however from preaching as much as usual. While 
in Yirginia he was amazed to hear that one of his 
oldest and most valued friends had been converted 
to the views of O'Kelly by being told by that re- 
former that he (Asbury) had offended Wesley, and 



for fear of being called to an account had cast him 
off altogether. To this he replies : " Query, Did not 
J. O'Kelly set aside the appointment of Richard 
Whatcoat? and did not the Conference in Baltimore 
strike that minute, out of our Discipline which was 
called a rejecting of Mr. Wesley f and now, does 
J. O'Kelly lay all the blame on me? It is true, I 
never approved of that binding minute. I did not 
think it practical expediency to obey Mr. Wesley, at 
three thousand miles distance, in all matters relative 
to Church government, neither did Brother What- 
coat, nor several others. At the first General Con- 
ference I was mute and modest when it passed, and 
I was mute when it was expunged. For this Mr. 
Wesley blamed me, and was displeased that I did 
not rather reject the whole connection or leave them 
if they did not comply. But I could not give up the 
connection so easily after laboring and suffering so 
many years with and for them." Thus it will be seen 
that it was not that Asbury loved Wesley the less, 
but that he loved the infant American Methodism 

The sad intelligence came to him while in South 
Carolina that the Light-street Church and Cokesbury 
College, in Baltimore, in connection with Mr. Haw- 
kins's elegant house, were consumed by fire. In this 
calamity the Methodists in Baltimore had the sym- 
pathy of the Episcopal, and the English and German 


Presbyterian Churches, which were kindly tendered 
for their occupancy. At Charleston he found his old 
friend, Mr. Wells, in a very dangerous sickness. 
After preaching on Sabbath he *went to hear Dr. 
Coke in the evening. On Monday the preachers who 
had been attending the Conference left, and after 
accompanying Dr. Coke to Clement's Ferry, he re- 
turned to Mr. Wells's house, where he instructed his 
slaves in the kitchen, and then prayed with their 
master for the last time. On Tuesday he returned 
and found him dead, and " the widow in prayers and 
tears, and also the dear children and servants." The 
following testimony of regard for his friend we find 
in his Journal : " It is twelve long years next March 
since he received Henry Willis, Jesse Lee, and my- 
self into his house. In a few days he was brought 
under great distress for sin, and soon after professed 
faith in Christ, since which he has been a diligent 
member of the society. About fourteen months ago, 
when there was a revival of religion in the society 
and in his own family, it came home to his own soul; 
he was quickened and remarkably blessed, and con- 
tinued so until his death. The last words he said were 
that he knew where he was ; that his wife was with 
him, and that God was with him. He was one much 
for the feeling part of religion ; a gentleman of spirit, 
and sentiment, and fine feelings ; a faithful friend to 
the poor, and warmly attached to the ministers of the 


Gospel." Dr. Coke pronounced an oration over his 
grave, and the succeeding Sabbath Asbury preached 
a funeral discourse on the text, "Be thou faithful 
unto deatli and I will give thee a crown of life." 

While here he was quite ill with intermittent fever, 
but occupied his time with Dr. Coke in writing the 
Notes to the Discipline, which was continued until 

the latter sailed for Ireland, which he did on Fridav, 

j i 

the 10th of February, 1797. When he parted with 
the doctor he felt unusually sad. About this time 
his spirits were more depressed than ever before. 
He says : " My depression of spirits at times is awful, 
especially when afflicted. That which is deeply con- 
stitutional will never die but with my body." When 
he left the city this time he felt like one escaped 
from prison. The balmy breath of spring revived 
his spirits, and as he rode along through the country 
he exclaimed: "Hail, ye solitary pines! the jessa- 
mine, the red bud, and dog-wood ! How charming in 
full bloom ; the former most fragrant." Before him 
was a journey of two thousand miles, and his outfit 
consisted of but three dollars ; yet in courage and 
confidence he was resolved to prosecute it, and be 
found in the way of duty however discouraging the 
circumstances. His route lay through North Caro- 
lina and Tennessee on to Maryland, and thence to 
New York. Some of the most magnificent scenes 
are presented to the eye of the traveler in the route 


yearly taken by the bishop in passing through the 
borders of North Carolina and crossing what is called 
the Gap in the mountain. The ascent is gradual 
until the summit of the Blue Ridge is gained. From 
this point the scene is the most enchanting that can 
be imagined. Spread out in beauty, such only as 
nature can produce, as far as the eye can reach, 
beautiful plains and flowery woodlands, presenting, 
as it were, a continuous but ever-varying panorama, 
nothing can be more inspiring. 

While at the Widow Sherwood's, in New York 
state, a family he frequently visited, and which was 
much loved by him, he says: '^It is now eight weeks 
since I have preached awfully dumb Sabbaths ! I 
have been most severely tried from various quarters. 
My fevers, my feet, and Satan would set in with my 
gloomy and nervous affections. Sometimes subject 
to the greatest effeminacy, to distress at the thought 
of a useless, idle life ; but what brought the heavy 
pang into my heart, and caused the big tear to roll, 
was the thought of leaving the connection without 
some proper men of their own election to go in and 
out before them in my place, and to keep that order 
which I have been seeking these many years to 
establish." While in New York he received a letter 
from Dr. Coke, who had gone from Ireland to En- 
gland. He makes the following comments on this 
letter : " The three grand divisions of the Wesleyan 


connection are alarming. It is a doubt if the doctor 
comes to America until spring, if at all until the 
General Conference. I am more than ever con- 
vinced of the propriety of the attempts I have made 
to bring forward episcopal men : first, From the un- 
certain state of my health ; secondly, From a regard 
to the good order and union of the American body 
and the state of the European connection. I am sen- 
sibly assured that the Americans ought to act as if 
they expected to lose me every day and had no de- 
pendence upon Dr. Coke, taking prudent care not to 
place themselves at all under the controlling influence 
of British Methodists." 

On his return to Baltimore he was called upon to 
open the new Light-street Church. His text for the 
occasion was : " Kow therefore ye are no more stran- 
gers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints 
and of the household of God, and are built upon the 
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ 
himself beins; the chief corner-stone." From hence 


he went to Virginia, where he held a Conference, and 
then, believing that a journey to Charleston would be 
fatal, he concluded to take up winter-quarters at Mr. 
Drumgold's. His health was such that he could not 
preach, and his time was occupied in study and writ- 
ing letters. When he could neither read nor write, he 

O ' 

had such a horror of being idle that he occupied his 
time in winding cotton. While here he received a 


letter from Charleston Conference, representing all 
things in a peaceful and prosperous condition. He 
was prompted to review in this connection the labors 
of Methodist preachers. He says: "I make no 
doubt but others have labored; but in England, Scot- 
land, and Ireland, and those kingdoms that have been 
civilized and improved one thousand years, and which 
are under such improvements, no minister could have 
suffered in those days and in those countries as in 
America, the most ancient parts of which have not 
been settled two hundred years, some parts not forty, 
others not thirty, twenty, nor ten, and some not five 
years. I have frequently skimmed along the fron- 

tiers for four and five hundred miles, from Kentucky 
to Green Briar, on the very edge of the wilderness, 
and thence along Tiger Valley to Clarksburg on the 
Ohio. I am only known by name to many of our 
people and some of our local preachers, and unless 
the people were all together they could not tell what 
I had to cope with. I make no doubt the Methodists 
are and will be a numerous and wealthy people ; and 
their preachers who follow us will not know our 
struggles but by comparing the present improved 
state of the country with what it was in our days, as 
exhibited in my Journal and other records of that 
day. Many other Churches go upon the paths 
already trodden two or three hundred years. We 
formed our own Clmrch, and claim the power of a 


reform every four years. We can make more exten- 
sive observations, because our preachers in six or 
seven years can go through the whole continent and 
see the state of other Churches in all parts of this 
new world." 

From his retreat he went out to Maryland, and 
passed through Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, 
and on to ISTew York. While here he preached in 
John-street and at the Bowery Church, and rode out 
to Kingsbridge, where he also preached. On his 
return he preached in Brooklyn. A letter from 
England informed him of the death of his father, and 
he entered the following reflections in his Journal : 
" I now feel myself an orphan with respect to my 
father. Wounded memory recalls to mind what took 
place when I parted with him nearly twenty-seven 
years ago. He was a man that I seldom, if ever, 
saw weep ; but when I came to America, over- 
whelmed with grief and tears, he cried out, ' I shall 
never see him again!' For about thirty-nine years 
my father has had the Gospel preached in his house." 

The indomitable Jesse Lee having penetrated the 
distant province of Maine, and organized societies 
and circuits, the time had now arrived for holding a 
Conference in that region. Asbury had a great 
desire to visit the noble and heroic band of Meth- 
odist preachers in Conference assembled. He had 
met Hall, Mudge, Merritt, Broadhead, and others 


associated with Lee in the New York Conference, 
but he wished to hold communion with them on the 
field of their toil and conflict. He accordingly, on the 
first month of the summer of 1798, left New- York, 
and proceeded through Connecticut, Rhode Island, 
and Massachusetts, passing through Boston, Lynn, 
Salem, and Newburyport, to Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire. Crossing the Piscataqua River, he step- 
ped for the first time upon the soil of Maine. Pro- 
ceeding along the sea shore, through old York, the 
parish of the eccentric " Father Moodie," who never 
received anything for his salary but the prayers of 
the people; through Wells, with its lovely bay and 
beautiful beach, over the pine plains of Kennebunk, 
and around the saline marshes of Scarborough, he 
arrived at Portland, where he found himself among 
strangers. Proceeding on to the Presumpscot River, 
he preached in a barn. At Gray he preached in a 
school-house, and at New Gloucester in the house of 
a widow. Making his way through the woods to the 
Androscoggin, he crossed near Lewiston Falls, and 
went on to Monmouth, where he preached in an 
unfinished church, the second erected in the state of 
Maine. At Winthrop an appointment had been 
made for him at the Congregational Church, but he 
was unable to fulfill it. From thence he beat his 
way through the woods, which he describes as being 
" as bad as the Alleghany Mountains and the Dismal 


Swamp, or the shades of death," until he reached 
Readfield, where the Conference was to be held. 

After Conference he returned to Portland, and 
preached in a small back room to about twenty-five 
persons. He visited Boston, and from thence re- 
turned to Xew York and rested a little at Widow 
Sherwood's. The intelligence he received of the 
prevalence of the yellow fever in Xew York and 
Philadelphia, w r as truly alarming. Crossing the ferry 
six miles above l^ew York, he went on to Crosswicks, 
in Xew Jersey, where he heard of the death of John 
Dickins, who fell a victim to the pestilence. Of 
Dickins he says : " For piety, probity, profitable 
preaching, holy living, the Christian education of his 
children, secret closet prayer, I doubt whether his 
superior is to be found either in Europe or America." 
From Baltimore he took his usual Southern trip, 
attending the Conferences and preaching on the way, 
and returned in the spring. While in Delaware a 
consultation of physicians, consisting of Doctors 
Cook, Anderson, Ridgley, and Keadham, was had in 
his case, in which they advised him to desist from 
preaching entirely, as he was threatened with a con- 
sumption, which would speedily end his days. From 
the Cross Roads he went to Philadelphia, where he 
held a Conference, retiring every night to the Eagle 
Works, on the Schuylkill, to the residence of Mr. 
Henry Foxall. After Conference he went to New 


York, where Conference was opened. Notwithstand- 
ing the advice of his physicians, he preached and 
exhorted during the session. We give the follow- 
ing interesting description of this Conference from 
the unpublished autobiography of Rev. William 
Thacher : 

" As the Conference of 1799 was the first in which 
I was ever honored with a place and a seat, I may 
give a brief account of my adventure on the occa- 
sion. About a dozen of us, Methodist preachers, 
passengers from the East, landed at New York, and 
made our way to the old head-quarters in John-street, 
bearino- on our arms our saddle-bags ; we were horse- 

o o / 

back men, and did not use trunks for traveling; we 
were all plain men, plain enough. We were wel- 
comed at the little old parsonage by the venerable 
He vs. Thomas Morrell and Joshua Wells, ministers in 
the station. Brother W. took us as he found us, bag 
and baggage, formed us in rank and file, and placed 
himself as captain at the head of the company. We 
were in Methodist preacher's uniform, in military 
style. Our walk, especially through Chatham-street, 
seemed to attract attention. We were soon disposed 
of at different places. Conference was held in the 
old hive of Methodists, John-street Church. What a 
congregation of Methodist preachers ! What greet- 
ings, w T hat love beaming in every eye, what gratu- 
lation, what rejoicing, what solemnity! The clock 

316 LI i !; AND HUES <T 

strikes nine. We arc in the old sanctuary, in Con- 

*r f 

icrciicc, a-M-mbli'd around the :iltar, witliin which sits 
tlu vcm-raMc Aslmry, Bible in hand. A chapter 
read, a hymn sung, we kneel. How solemn, how 
awful, how devout the prayer ! What amens are 
responded, what a Divine effusion ! Inspiration 
seemed to pervade the whole. Prayer ended, the 
secretary calls the roll, and we proceed to business. 
Six hours are spent each day for the transaction of 
business, from nine to twelve and from three to six, 
each session opening by reading the Scriptures, sing- 
ing, and prayer, and closing by prayer. At length 
the Conference draws to a close ; the bishop looks 
solemnly around upon us, the doomsday document 
trembling in his hand ; he reads intuitively each 
countenance, tracing the suspense and solicitude of 
his anxious sons, all trembling to fly to their work, 
yet fearing as to the place where they shall be sent. 
Although the suspense was painful, the slow, solemn, 
concluding address of the bishop gradually rolls 
along, occasionally stopping in its progress until its 
close. Then taking the Hymn-book he reads : 

' The vineyard of the Lord 

Before his laborers lies, 
And lo ! we see the vast reward 

Which waits us in the skies.' 

We sing, we kneel, and O wliat a prayer! What 
unction from heaven ! We arise, and then the hid- 


den, sealed instrument is all a revelation, the bene- 
diction is pronounced and we separate." 

From New York he bent his course southward, and, 
accompanied by Lee, visited many of the quarterly 
meetings and all the Conferences as far as Georgia. 
On his return he held a Conference in Charleston. 
While there intelligence was received of the death 
of Washington, and on the Sabbath Asbury deliv- 
ered a discourse on the occasion. No one entertained 
a higher regard for "Washington than did Asbury 
and his coadjutors. After the Conference closed 
Lee was requested by the bishop to visit, as his as- 
sistant, several places in Georgia, he being unable 
to go in consequence of illness. Here he remained 
preaching, when he was able, until Lee returned, 
when, accompanied by him and Snethen, he set out for 
the North. The latter of these traveling companions 
was as great a favorite with the bishop as Lee, and 
in alluding to a certain sermon which he preached in 
Virginia during this journey, he says: " N. Snethen 
preached a great discourse on 2 Cor. xiii, 5-7." In 
the route they were joined by M'Kendree and other 
preachers, who were making their way to the 
General Conference, which was to be held in Balti- 
more. From the 10th of February to the 27th of 
April, Asbury had traveled eleven hundred miles. 



General Conference in Baltimore in 1800 Address of the British Con- 
ference Explanation of Dr. Coke Address of Asbury to the Brit- 
ish Conference His Determination to resign his Office Resolution 
of the Conference Election of Richard Whatcoat to the Epi.-< i "i'a<.'y 
A -bury and Whatcoat at Ferry Hall Abingdon Ruins of the Col- 
lege New York Conference Revival in the Bowery Church Wid- 
ow Sherwood's Boston Bishops preach in the Tabernacle 
Mother Livingston Her Conversion Hospitality Garn-tr-.n's 
Crossing the Wilderness Conference at Bethel Preachers present 
Nashville Origin of Camp-meetings Asbury confined at Philadel- 
phia Western Conference in Tennessee Poyti K-.-crosses the 
Mountains Spends the Winter in South Carolina Baltimore Maine 
A charming Spot His Mother's Death Tribute to her Memory 
Death of Rev. Devereux Jarratt Memorial Funeral Sermon New 
York Conference Fredericktown Natural Bridge Revival at Hoi- 
stein Conference At Station Camp Night Encampment Mount- 
ain Dew No Tent Opinion of Southern Planters Baltimore 
Compliment to Perry Hall Miss De Peyster's Legacy Sermon in 
John street Ordains Joshua Soule Ashgrove Pittsburgh Zane's 
Trace Lancaster Western Conference in Kentucky Visit to Dr. 
Hinde Interesting Incident Illness Depression Legacy Ten- 
nessee Virginia. 


ON the 6th of Mav, 1800, one hundred and sixteen 

/ / 

itinerant preachers had congregated from all parts of 
the United States in Baltimore, for the purpose of 
holding another General Conference. After the Con- 
ference was opened, Dr. Coke, who had returned 
from Europe, read the address of the British Confer- 
ence, and at considerable length explained those por- 
tions of it which related to himself in regard to his 


return to Europe. He remarked in conclusion that 
the address was not his own, and that he was 
not consulted in relation to it, and he left the 
decision of the case entirely at the disposal of the 
General Conference. At the previous General Con- 
ference he had pledged himself to his American 
brethren after the following manner : " I offer myself 
to my American brethren entirely to their service, 
all I am and have, with my talents and labors in 
every respect, without any mental reservation what- 
ever, to labor among them and to assist Bishop As- 
bury ; not to station the preachers at any time when 
he is present, but to exercise all the episcopal duties 
when I hold a Conference in his absence, and by his 
consent, and to visit the West Indies and France, 
when there is an opening and I can be spared." 

As no official action could be had in relation to the 
desire of the British Conference, which had pre- 
viously been made known to the Conference in Vir- 
ginia in 1797, Bishop Asbury addressed that body as 
follows : 

brotherly kindness, were pleased to address a letter to 
us, your brethren and friends in America, expressing 
your difficulties and desires concerning our beloved 
brother Dr. Coke, that he might return to Europe to 
heal the breach which designing men have been 

.".I'll J.Hi; AND TIMKS OF 

making ain>ng y.u. <>r pivvnit its threatened over- 
flow. AVc- have but nnu grand iv-pun-ivi.- body, 
which is our (ieiKTul ( 'MiilVrt'iice, and it wan in and 
t- this bodv tlie doctor entered his obligations ! 
MTVC his brethren in America. X<; yearly Confer- 
ence, no official character dare assume to answer for 
that grand federal body. 

"By the advice of the yearly Conference now sit- 
ting in Virginia, and the respect I bear to you, I write 
to inform you that in our own persons and order we 
consent to his return and partial continuance with 
you, and earnestly pray that you may have much 
peace, union, and happiness together. May you find 
that your divisions end in a greater union, order, and 
harmony of the body, so that the threatened cloud 
may blow over, and your divisive party may be of as 
little consequence to you as ours is to us. 

" With respect to the doctor's returning to us, I 
leave your enlarged understandings and good sense 
to judge. You will see the number of souls upon our 
Annual Minutes, and as men of reading you may 
judge over what a vast continent these societies are 
scattered. I refer you to a large letter I wrote our 
beloved Brother Bradburn on the subject. 

" By a probable guess, we have, perhaps, from one 
thousand to one thousand two hundred traveling 
and local preachers. Local preachers are daily rising 
up and coming forward, with proper recommendations 


from their respective societies, to receive ordination, 
besides the regulation and ordinations of the yearly 
Conferences. From Charleston, South. Carolina, 
where the Conference was held, to the province of 
Maine, where another Conference is to be held, there 
is a space of about one thousand and three hundred 
miles ; and we have only one worn-out superintend- 
ent, who was this day advised by the yearly Confer- 
ence to desist from preaching till next spring, on 
account of his debilitated state of body. But the 
situation of our affairs requires that he should travel 
about five thousand miles a year, through many parts 
unsettled, and other thinly peopled countries. I have 
now with me an assistant, who does everything for 
me he constitutionally can ; but the ordaining and sta- 
tioning the preachers can only be performed by my- 
self in the doctor's absence. 

" We have to lament that our superintendency is 
so weak, and that it cannot constitutionally be 
strengthened till the ensuing General Conference. 
How I have felt and must feel, under such critical 
and important circumstances, I leave you to judge. 

"To write much on the subject would be imposing 
on my own weakness and your good understanding. 
I speak as unto wise men ; judge what I say. 

" Wishing you great peace and spiritual prosperity, 
I remain your brother, your friend, your servant for 
Christ's sake." 


322 Lin: AM* TIMFS OF 

In conformity with the pcrmi itn p von in this let- 
ter for his ul'M-ncr \'ru\ America f<>r u short season 
only, afkT remaining fora while and assisting Bishop 
Asbnry, Dr. Coke returned to Europe, and was use- 
fully employed in visiting the societies in various 
parts of the United Kingdom, particularly in Ireland, 
during a rebellion which broke out in 1798, in which 
he was successful in his attempts to shield the Meth- 
odist preachers from all blame, until the session of 
this General Conference, when he appeared to fulfill 
his engagements with his American brethren, or be 
honorably released. After deliberating for some 
time upon the request of the British Conference for 
Dr. Coke's return, the following resolution was con- 
curred in by the General Conference : 

" That, in compliance with the address of the Brit- 
ish Conference to let Dr. Coke return to Europe, this 
General Conference consent to his return upon con- 
dition that he come back to America as soon as his 
business will allow, but certainly by the next Gen- 
eral Conference." 

In accordance with the spirit of this resolution, the 
Conference addressed their British brethren as fol- 
lows : 

" We have considered, with the greatest attention, 
the request you have made for the doctor's return to 
Europe ; and after revolving the subject deeply in 
our minds, and spending part of two days in debating 


thereon, we still feel an ardent desire for his continu- 
ance in America. This arises from the critical state 
of Bishop Asbury's health, the extension of our work, 
our affection for and approbation of the doctor, and 
his probable usefulness, provided he continue with 
us. We wish to detain him, as we greatly need his 
services. But the statement you have laid before us 
in your address, of the success of the West India 
missions under his superintendence, the arduous at- 
tempt to carry the Gospel among the native Irish 
requiring his influence and support, and the earnest 
request you have added to this representation, ' be- 
lieving it to be for the glory of God,' hath turned the 
scale at present in your favor. We have, therefore, 
in compliance with your request, lent the doctor to 
you for a season, to return to us as soon as he con- 
veniently can, but at farthest by the meeting of our 
next General Conference." 

Asbury's health having declined more rapidly 
within a few years past, and finding it difficult to 
travel and superintend the work generally, he had 
come to the conclusion to resign his office as bishop. 
Being unable to perform its duties, he could not consent 
to remain in a relation for which he was evidently 
unfitted, and which Providence indicated should be 
dissolved. He was keenly alive to the responsibility 
of his position, and having been able during the last 
quadrennial period to render only partial service, he 


feared that there was a dissatisfaction existing in the 
minds of the preachers on that account. To disabuse 
his mind the Conference unanimously passed the 
following : 


" Resolved, That this General Conference consider 
themselves under many and great obligations to Mr. 
Asbury for the many and great services he has ren- 
dered to the connection, and that they earnestly 
entreat a continuance of his services as one of the 
General Superintendents of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, as far as his strength will permit." 

In view of the inability of Bishop Asbury to do 
effectively the work of an itinerant general superin- 
tendent, the Conference subsequently resolved to go 
into an election of an additional bishop, and as the 
result of such election Richard "Whatcoat was chosen. 
He was shortly after duly ordained to the office, and 
became the episcopal colleague of Asbury. 

After the transaction of the ordinary business per- 
taining to the Conference it adjourned, and the 
preachers started out again to their different and dis- 
tant fields of itinerant toil. 

In company with the newly ordained bishop, As- 
bury left Baltimore and went out to " Perry Hall." 
The family of Mr. Gough, like the family visited by 
the Saviour at Bethany, manifested the most enlarged 
and open-hearted hospitality, and the visits of As- 
bury were hailed with delight. From this place they 


went to Abingdon, the site of the late Cokesbury 
College, whose charred and blackened walls pre- 
sented a sad and melancholy appearance. Passing 
through Delaware arid New Jersey, they came on to 
New York, where the Conference was held. During 
the session there was quite a revival in the Bowery 
Church. From this place they went out to the 
Widow Sherwood's for the purpose of enjoying quiet 
and rest. While here Asbury preached at Sherwood's 
Chapel. From thence the bishops pursued their 
eastern route through Connecticut and Rhode Island 


on to Boston, where they both preached in the Tab- 
ernacle. On their return they fell in company with 
Garrettson, who had been attending the funeral of the 
venerable Mother Livingston, who died suddenly at 
the age of seventy-eight. In regard to this lady As- 
bury says : " About thirty-four years ago this godly 
woman was awakened, under the first sermon the 
Rev. Dr. Sadley preached in the Reformed Low 
Dutch Church in New York ; as she told me, not she 
alone, but six or eight other respectable women. 
Madam Livingston was one who gave invitation to 
the Methodist preachers to come to Rhinebeck, and 
received them into her house, and would have given 
them more countenance had she been under no other 
influence than that of the spirit of God and her own 
feelings. I visited her one year before her death, and 
spent a night at her mansion, She was sensible, con- 


, and ho-pitalih-." Ai'tcr leaving Tlliinebeck, 
where tlicv >:],] H 'd and enjoyed the hospitalities of 
( ianvtN'ii's pleasant home, and at the "elegant man- 
Mn " of Dr. Tillotson, commanding a charming view 
of the Hudson, they crossed the Peekskill mountains 
ami came to Poughkeepsie, concerning which As- 
bury remarked, "This is no place for Methodism." 
Again in Xew York, after recruiting a little, they 
started out on their Southern tour, passing through 
the intervening states, preaching at Baltimore and 
other places, until they arrived at Virginia, where 
they made preparations for their "grand route to Ken- 
tucky." After crossing the wilderness, they reached 
the seat of the Western Conference on the 3d of Oc- 
tober. The place selected was Bethel, on the Ken- 
tucky River, about forty miles above Frankfort. We 
give the names of the preachers present on that occa- 
sion : William M'Keudree, William Burke, John Sale, 
Hezekiah Harriman, Benjamin Lakin. At this Con- 
ference Lewis Hunt, Thomas Allen, and Jeremiah 
Lawson were readmitted. Two were admitted on 
trial. After spending two weeks in that section of 
the country, Asbury, Whatcoat, and M'Kendree start- 
ed for Nashville. He thus describes his visit to this 
city: "This is a place long heard of, but never seen 
by me until now. Some thought the congregation 
would be small, but I believed it would be large. 
Not less than one thousand people were in and out 


of the stone church, which if floored, ceiled, and 
glazed, would be a grand house. We had three 
hours' public exercises. Mr. M'Kendree preached 
upon i The wages of sin is death ;' myself upon Ro- 
mans x, 14, 15, and Brother Whatcoat on 'When 
Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also 
appear with him. in glory.' While in Tennessee 
they attended a meeting which had been in progress 
four days. It was one of those remarkable meetings 
called sacramental occasions, held by Presbyterian 
ministers, and which, on account of the great numbers 
that attended them, gave rise to camp-meetings. At 
this meeting Asbury, Whatcoat, and M'Kendree were 
invited to participate, and it was continued several 
days longer. The following graphic description of 
this meeting we find in his Journal : " The stand was 
in the open air, embosomed in a wood of lofty trees. 
The ministers of God, Methodists and Presbyterians, 
united their labors, and mingled with the childlike 
simplicity of primitive times. Fires blazing here 
and there dispelled the darkness ; and the shouts of 
the redeemed captives, mingling with the cries of 
precious souls struggling into life, broke the silence 
of midnight. The weather was delightful, as if 
heaven smiled, while mercy flowed in abundant 
streams of salvation to perishing sinners." 

By means of these meetings great revivals pre- 
vailed throughout the South and West, and extended 


to the Middle and Eastern States. So great were the 
multitudes, collected far and near from the surround- 
ing country, that from ten to fifteen thousand per- 
ns have been estimated to be present at a single 
encampment. The congregations being so immense 
it was impossible for the voice of one preacher to 
reach them, and stands were erected at different 
points, where ministers of different denominations, 
but all in the same spirit, and actuated by the same 
motives, held forth to the listening thousands the 
words of life. So great was the excitement which 
pervaded the encampment at times, that hundreds 
if not thousands might have been seen prostrate 
upon the earth at once in the greatest distress, or 
wild with joy, on their feet, shouting the praises of 
God. So many descriptions have been written of 
this remarkable revival, and the wonderful exercises 
accompanying it, that we do not deem it necessary to 
occupy space in repeating them, and shall refer the 
reader who may not have seen them, or who desires 
a further account, to Finley's Sketches, or the Auto- 
biography of the Rev. Jacob Young, both of whom 
were present at the meetings. 

From the South Asbury returned to Philadelphia, 
where he was confined by lameness for two months, 
and in August, 1801, he again commenced his conti- 
nental journey. An arrangement had been made 
that he should go West, taking with him as a travel- 


ing companion Nicholas Snethen, while Whatcoat was 
to attend the Southern Conference. Proceeding 
through Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, to Hoi- 
stein River, he met the Western Conference at Eben- 
ezer, Tennessee. 

We have before us a copy of the Journal of the 
Western Conference from the beginning, and to 
show the preachers of the present clay the manner 
in which the Journals were then kept, we will 
make an extract or two. In the Minutes for 1801 
we find the following : " John A. Granade came 
recommended for admission on trial. It is the 
judgment of the Conference that he has a certain 
hardness and stubbornness in his temper which has 
produced some improper conclusions ; but as he has 
given some hopeful assurance that in future he will 
be more teachable, and as his piety and zeal are not 
doubted, the Conference is of opinion that he may 
be admitted after receiving a special counsel from 
the bishop." Granade was a man of remarkable ec- 
centricity of character, and would often express his 
thoughts in poetic verse. Pie proved an efficient 
itinerant ; but his zeal carrying him beyond his 
strength, and being exposed to the hardships of the 
wilderness, his health failed, and after a few years he 
was obliged to retire from the work. At this Con- 
ference the health of Poythress was such that he was 
obliged to give up the itinerancy. In giving the 


reasons for tin- selection of Cumberland as the seat 
of the next Conference, the Journal records the fol- 
lowing: "1st. The union and friendly state of affairs 
between the Methodists and Presbyterians; and, ^d, 
Tli ere never was a Conference held there," reasons 
which proved conclusive. 

From this Conference the bishop recrossed the 
mountains, and spent the winter traveling and 
preaching in South Carolina and Georgia. In the 
spring he returned to Baltimore, and after attending 
the Middle Conferences he accompanied Whatcoat 
to Maine. Returning he stopped at Waltham, and 
found a quiet retreat in the hospitable mansion of his 
old friend, Mr. Abraham Bemis. This delightful 
place, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and adorned 
with all the elegancies of wealth and refinement, was 
a favorite resort of Asbury. The contrast between 
such a place of rest and refreshment, and one where 
there was but one room and fire-place, and a half- 
dozen inmates, where " he had to preach, read, write, 
pray, sing, talk, eat, drink, and sleep," was doubtless 
very great. In many of his rides through the western 
wilderness the pioneer bishop sometimes had not even 
as good accommodations as we have just described. 
Often he had to sleep in the woods, if sleep he could 
for the wild beasts which infested them. 

During this year the following remarks occur in his 
Journal : "I find reasons enough in my own rnind to 


justify myself against the low murmurs of partiality 
in which some have indulged. I am impartial. I 
spend as much time in the extremities, and know 
no Maryland or Delaware, after the flesli, more than 
Kentucky, Cumberland, Georgia, or the Carolinas. 
It is our duty to save the health of the preachers 
where we can, to make particular appointments for 
some important charges, and it is our duty to em- 
brace all parts of the continent and Union after the 
example of primitive times, and the first and faith- 
ful preachers in America." 

While at the session of the Baltimore Conference 
this year, the sad intelligence of the death of his 
mother reached him. We find in his Journal the fol- 
lowing touching and beautiful tribute to her memory: 

" Her paternal descent was Welsh, from a family 
ancient and respectable of the name of Rogers. She 
lived a woman of the world till the death of her only 
daughter, Sarah Asbury. How would the bereaved 
mother weep and tell of the beauties and excellences 
of her lost and lovely child, pondering on the past in 
the silent suffering of hopeless grief ! This afflictive 
providence graciously terminated in the mother's 
conversion. When she saw herself a lost and 
wretched sinner she sought religious people. But 
4 in the times of this ignorance ' few were ' sound in 
the faith,' or < faithful to the grace given.' Many 
were the days she spent alone, chiefly in reading and 


pravrr. Ai length s?he found justifying grace and 
pardoning nicivy." 

The paivnts of Asbury were not l>y any means in 
alllucnt riivumstaiices. lie was constantly remitting 
to them all the money he could possibly spare from 
America. Some of his letters to them are preserved, 
and they exhibit a beautiful specimen of filial love. 
"I have had," says he, in a letter to his father and 
mother in 1793, " considerable pain of mind from in- 
formation received that the money was not paid. I 
last evening made arrangement for a remittance to you. 
It will come into your hands in the space of three or 
four months. My salary is sixty-four dollars. I have 
sold my watch and library, and would sell my shirts 
before you should want. I have made a reserve for 
you. I spend very little on my own account. My 
friends find me some clothing. The contents of a 
small pair of saddle-bags will do for me, and one 
coat a year. Your son Francis is a man of honor 


and conscience. As my father and my mother never 
disgraced me by an act of dishonesty, I hope to echo 
back the same sound of an honest, upright man. I 
am well satisfied that the Lord saw fit you should be 
my parents rather than the king and queen, or any 
of the great. I sometimes think you will outlive me. 
I have made my will, and left my all to you, and 
that is soon done. While I live and do well, I shall 
remember you every year. O that your last days 


may be your best, and that you may not only live 
long, but live well and die well !" 

By the following extract it would seem he was 
seriously thinking of returning to England to provide 
for his parents, or of their removing to America, so 
as to be near him : " I have received several letters 
expressive of your paternal love and gratitude toward 
me. I have often revolved the serious thought of 
my return to you. I have frequently asked myself 
if I could retire to a single circuit, step down and act 
as lay preacher. This, if I know my own heart, is 
not my difficulty. "With humility I may say one 
hundred thousand respectable citizens of the new 
world, three hundred traveling, and six hundred 
local preachers, would advise me not to go. I hope 
the voice of the. people is the voice of God. At 
present we have more work than faithful workmen. 
I am like Joseph, I want to have my parents near 
me. I am not ashamed of your poverty^ and I hope, 
after so many years professing religion, you will not 
be wanting in piety. I have considered you have 
that which is my joy and my glory ; that you have 
had for forty years open doors for religious exercises 
when no other would or even dare do it. It is a 
serious subject whether you think it is your duty 
still to keep a place for preaching, or if on your 
removal the Gospel will be taken from the place. 
Yet when I think you have no child with you, nor 


friend that carctli for yon, the distress of the land, 
and the high prices of provisions, I wish to see yon, 
and have yon near me. It is true, while I live you 
will live also, if I keep my place and piety. I study 

daily what I can do without. One horse, and that 


sometimes borrowed, one coat, one waistcoat the 
last coat and waistcoat I used about fourteen months 
-four or five shirts, and four or five books. I am in 
doubt, if I should be called away, you will not be 
provided for so well in England as in America, 
among those for whom I have faithfully labored 
these twenty-four years. It is true, you are not im- 
mortal any more than myself, and judging according 
to the nature of things you may go firsfj one or both 
of you. All these things I have weighed in my 
mind. I wish you to consider the matter, and ask 
much counsel of God, and of your best and most im- 
partial friends. I wish you, after considering the 
matter, to send me another letter. Whether I be 
present or absent, dead or alive, I trust my friends in 
Baltimore will take care of you by my help. You 
have spent many pounds upon Christian people, I 
know, from my childhood. Happy was I when this 
was done, and I hope it will come home to you in 
mercy. You must make it matter of much fasting 
and prayer before you attempt anything. You must 
not expect to see me more than twice a year." 

He afterward concluded, however, that their inter- 


est would be best promoted by remaining in England, 
and wrote as follows : " Perhaps I was constrained, 
from the high sense of filial duty I had, to invite you 
here. I now think you are much better where you 
are. I sincerely wish I could come to see yon, but 
I see no way to do it without sinning against God 
and the Church. Since I wrote I have traveled 
nearly two thousand five hundred miles, through 
Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Mary- 
land, and Delaware. Hard wear and hard fare; 
but I am healthy and lean, gray-headed, and dim- 

On making his parents a remittance of money in 
1795, he says : " Were it ten thousand per year, if I 
had it in my possession, you should be welcome if 
you had need" 

After news had arrived of the death of his father, 
he wrote as follows to his mother: "From the in- 
formation I have received I fear my venerable father 
is no more an inhabitant of this earth. You are a 
widow and I am an orphan with respect to my 
father. I cannot tell how to advise you in this im- 
portant change. You have made yourself respectable 
and extensive friends, who, though they cannot give 
to you, can comfort you. I have been, as you have 
heard, afflicted by excessive labors of mind and body. 
I had to neglect writing, reading, and preaching for 
a time. I had to stop and lie by in some precious 


families, where parents and children, in some meas- 
ure, supplied your absence. I lay by in Virginia. 
When you hear the name you will love it unseen, for 
you will say, 'That is the place where my Frank was 
sick.' I am now much mended. I move in a little 
carriage, being unable to ride on horseback. "Were 
you to see me, and the color of my hair nearly that 
of your own ! My eyes are weak even with glasses. 
When I was a child, and would pry into the Bible 
by twinkling firelight, you used to say, ' Frank, you 
will spoil your eyes.' It is a grief to me that I can- 
not preach as heretofore. I am greatly worn out at 
fifty-five ; but it is a good cause. God is with me ; 
my soul exults in God." 

These extracts we have given in order to exhibit 
the amiable and filial spirit of this good man, who, 
though prevented by the pressing duties of his respon- 
sible station from ever visiting his father and mother 
in their old age, spared no pains to cheer and aid 
them in the decline of life. The high position he 
occupied in America did not make him forget the 
village of his birth, nor, amid all the thousands in 
America who admired and loved him, did he forget 
the humble Joseph and Elizabeth Asbury. Much 
did he desire to see them again ; but their faces he 
saw no more ; father and mother had 

" Gone from a world of grief and sin, 
"With God eternally shut in." 


When lie arrived at Petersburgli, Virginia, lie 
learned that his old friend, the Rev. Devereux 
Jarratt, was no more. He was, as we have already 
seen, a zealous and devoted minister of the Prot- 
estant Episcopal Church and a most successful 
preacher. He had witnessed several revivals of 
religion in his parish. When he began his labors 
there was no other evangelical minister in the prov- 
ince. He traveled into several counties, and there 
were very few parish churches within fifty miles of 
his own in which he had not preached, and to which 
labors of love he added preaching the word of life on 
solitary plantations. He was the first who received 
the despised Methodist preachers ; when strangers 
and unfriended, he took them to his house and had 
societies formed in his parish. The friends of Mr. 
Jarratt desired the bishop to preach his funeral dis- 
course, which he did to an immense congregation 
from the passage, " Well done, good and faithful 
servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I 
will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou 
into the joy of thy Lord." The following is an out- 
line of the discourse : I. A good servant is only good 
in the relation which his practice and experience 
bear to the example and precept of his Divine Mas- 
ter. Hence his goodness is a Christian goodness, 
founded altogether on grace. II. A faithful servant 
is one who is faithful to his ministerial character, 


18 i. in: AND TIMES OF 

faithful in the discharge of tlic duties pertaining to 
his holy calling, (1.) in preaching the wrd ; IL'J in 
administering the sacraments and ordinances; (3.) in 
ruling the Church of God. III. The results of such 


h'delitv. A glorious entrance to heaven. 

At the New York Conference in 1802 Asbury pre- 
sided, and to show the estimate placed upon him by 
the preachers of that day, we insert the following 
testimony from one who has recently entered into 
rest: "The beloved Bishop Asbury, that true son of 
Wesley, that apostle of American Methodism, sent 
out from the evangelical school of the purest order 
and best authority of original Methodists in England, 
grown up with our growth, a pioneer among our mount- 
ains, and vales, and forests, over our rivers and lakes 
till our Revolutionary war, when he retired for a sea- 
son, as he was a messenger of peace. He has shown, 
by the path of love and moderation, the Gospel ex- 
ample amid the roar of cannon, and the din of war, 
and effusion of human blood, and the shout of liberty, 
that he was a true son of peace. He awaited for the 
dove with the olive-branch, when he came from his 
retirement and emerged from the clouds a star of the 
first magnitude, whose glory has known no eclipse. 
He steadily shone in our hemisphere till mortality 
was swallowed up of life. This is that disciple who 
steadied our helm and commanded our ship. With 
the affection of a father he conducted our business 


and appointed our work. A man, dead to the world, 
of one work the salvation of souls. The zeal of the 
Lord's house consumed him till he wore out in the 
work and expired at his post. In the intervals of 
Conference he made out all the stations alone, often 
dropping on his knees, then rising and writing down 
appointments according to the wisdom given him." 

On his way South, after reaching Fredericktown, 
Virginia, he remarked : " At last, after more than 
thirty years' labor, the Methodists have a house of 
worship here and thirty souls in fellowship." On his 
way to Tennessee he passed through that portion of 
Virginia in which the Natural Bridge is found, of 
which he gives in his Journal an exact description. 
As he gazed upon the beautiful arch thrown over the 
chasm one hundred and sixty feet above the surface 
of the stream below, he was filled with admiration at 
the scene. When he reached the Holstein he found 
a gracious revival in progress. At witnessing this 
work of the Lord he was led to exclaim : " Fourteen 
or fifteen times have I toiled over the mighty mount- 
ains, and nearly twenty years have we labored upon 
Holstein, and lo ! the rage of wild and Christian sav- 
ages is tamed, and God hath glorified himself." 
After having attended Conference at Station Camp, 
Tennessee, he started with M'Kendree for "West 
Point. He was greatly afflicted at this time with 
acute pain in his whole system. On his way he was 


attacked with a most torturing pain in his knee, at- 
tended with a swi-lliiiiT of botli his feet. N nth with- 


standing tin's, however, he traveled on. After cross- 
ing the Cumberland River night overtook them, 

O O 

and they encamped under what he called a heavy 
mountain-dew. He thus describes the encampment: 
" Brother M'Kendree made me a tent of his own and 
John Watson's blankets, and happily saved me from 
taking cold while I slept two hours under my grand 
marquee. Brother M'Kendree threw his cloak over 
the limb of a tree, and he and his companion took 
shelter beneath and slept also. I will not be rash in 
my protestations against any country, but I think I 
will never more brave the wilderness without a tent. 
My dear M'Kendree had to lift me up and down 
from my horse like a helpless child. For my sick- 
ness and sufferings I conceive I am indebted to 


sleeping uncovered in the wilderness. I could not 
have slept but for the aid of laudanum ; meantime 
my spirits and patience were wonderfully preserved 
in general, although I was hardly restrained some- 
times from crying, Lord, let me die, for death hath 
no terrors! and I could not but reflect upon my 
escape from the toils and sufferings of another year." 
Notwithstanding all his sufferings, he toiled on over 
rugged mountains and through dense forests until he 
completed his usual journey of six thousand miles for 
the year. 


While in South Carolina he made the following 
observation in regard to the planters : " Whenever 
our preachers gain the confidence of the lowland 
planters, so that the masters will give us all the lib- 
erty we ought to have, there will be thousands of 
the poor slaves converted to God. The patient must 
be personally visited by the physician before advice 
and medicine will be proper, and so it is and must 
ever be with the sin-sick soul and the spiritual physi- 
cian." And thus it proved ; for notwithstanding the 
reiterated declaration of the Church on the subject 
of slavery, the confidence of the master has been 
gained, and masters and slaves have alike been con- 
verted to God, and brought into the same Christian 
brotherhood. Had any other course been adopted 
than w r hat Asbury suggested and advised, the two 
hundred thousand slaves now in the bosom of the 
Church would have been in a state of the most 
wretched spiritual bondage, and more effectually 
excluded from the Gospel than their brethren in the 
wild and hitherto inaccessible regions of Africa. 

On his return from his Southern tour he held Con- 
ference in Baltimore. Sixty-four effective preachers 
were now connected with the Conference. On Sab- 
bath he preached three times, morning, afternoon, 
and evening, and gave the following reasons why 
he did not preach more during the session : 1. Be- 
cause there were many zealous, acceptable preachers 

34 'J LIFE AND TIM!.- <>F 

present; 2. Because he desired to be a man of one 
business, and to have his mind free: and 3. Because 
he had neither bodily nor mental strength to preside 
in the Conference, and take so great a part in par- 
ticular duties as its head, to receive the continual 
application of so many preachers on so many subjects 
presented at that time. 

The bishop paid the following merited compliment 
to the Baltimore Conference : " In regard to finances 
they have had a surplus. They have supported wives, 
widows, and children, and in the present instance 
have supplied the contingencies of those preachers 
who have gone to distant parts, besides giving one 
hundred dollars to the Philadelphia, and as much to 
the Conferences of Xew York and Boston." The 
Baltimore Conference, it must be conceded by all, 
has raised the proudest monument to American 
Methodism in the zeal and success which has crowned 
her labors, and Baltimore, one of the ancient seats of 
Methodism, deserves to hold the urn that contains 
the ashes of the sainted Asfrury. It is not the least 
praise of this monumental city that the sons of the 
devoted Asbury have, with characteristic nobleness 
of spirit, resolved to erect a monument over his 

After the Conference was ended he sought rest in 
the calm and quiet retreat of Perry Hall. From 
hence he went to Philadelphia, and so on through 


New Jersey to ISTew York. While here he signed a 
memorial for obtaining in court a legal claim to the 
300 left by Miss De Peyster to the bishops and 
clergy of the Methodist Episcopal Church, for the 
benefit of the same. On Sabbath he preached in the 
John-street Church from James iii, 17. His sermon 
was spoken of at the time as one of great interest 
and power. The following is an outline : 

I. The wisdom that cometh from above is re- 
vealed and inspired. It is pure, negatively: It is 
not mixed by its Divine Author with that wisdom 
which is earthly, sensual, and devilish. It is not 
mixed with the policy, or pleasures, or profits of this 
world, or of sin, which is of hell. The apostle hath 
written, "pure religion," and this cannot be when 
mingled with such qualities, all of which spring from 
men or devils. 

II. The wisdom that cometh from above is pure, 
positively: It is pure in conviction, repentance, 
faith, regeneration, and sanctification. It is the 
operative principle of grace in the soul as internally 
and externally manifested. It is peaceable in rela- 
tion to God and all mankind, to the Church and the 
world, and the tranquillity of the soul. It is gentle, 
amiable in all its ministrations, never stormy, or 
sour, or haughty and overbearing. Easy to be en- 
treated to do and suffer anything that is right for 
the glory of God and the good of souls. " Impartial- 

844 LI I 'i; AX!) TI.MKS OF 

ity." This is the Christian <lrcss. Not bound and 
pinched by countries, names, forms, and opinions. 
It neither envies the rich on account of their afflu- 
ence, nor despises or neglects the poor on account of 
their poverty. " Without hypocrisy." Sincerity is the 
incontestible evidence to God and man of our posses- 
sion of the heavenly treasure, of that wisdom that 
cometh from above. People may go upon fancies, 
and be ready to die with raptures ; but if they are 
turbulent, ungovernable, self-willed, and false toward 
their fellow or toward their God, their religion is 
vain. "Whatever it may once have been, it is not 
the gold of the sanctuary now, but a counterfeit, 
alloyed by a mixture of the wisdom of this world." 

From New York he proceeded on his Eastern tour 
through Connecticut to Boston, where he held a Con- 
ference. Speaking of New England, he says : " Poor 
New England, she is the valley of dry bones still ! 
Come, O breath of the Lord, and breathe upon these 
slain, that they may live !" At this Conference he 
ordained Joshua Soule and Nathan Emery elders, 
the former of whom is the senior bishop of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, South, now advanced in 
years and quite feeble in health; the latter a few 
years past closed his earthly labors in Ohio. 

From Boston he directed his course to Ashgrove, 
on the Hudson, where, as we have seen, the father 
of Methodism in New York had taken up his abode, 


and where his ashes now rest. Passing through 
New Hampshire and Vermont, he at length reached 
Ashgrove, where he held the New York Conference. 
Nearly seventy preachers were present, and on Sab- 
bath Asbury preached to two thousand hearers. 
Crossing the Hudson he passed over into New 
Jersey, and thence, after stopping and preaching 
at different places on the route, he proceeded on to 

This year (1803) he took a different route to the 
West. He went by Lancaster, Columbia, and York, 
to Carlisle, and from thence, through Shippensburg, 
Strasburg, and Emmetsburg, he proceeded to the 
Juniata, which he crossed near Bedford. From 
thence he went to Connelsville, on the Youghiogheny, 
and thus on to the Monongahela, which he followed 
down to Pittsburgh. He then proceeded down the 
Ohio to Wheeling, and from thence through the woods 
to Zanesville, a long and weary ride. Taking Zane's 
Trace, he started for Chillicothe, stopping on the way 
at Lancaster. From Chillicothe he struck again for 
the Ohio, and proceeded to Paris, Kentucky, where 
he held the Western Conference. During tnis tour 
he was considerably afflicted, and at times unusually 
dispirited. He says, however, in the midst of all his 
toils and hardships : " I felt wholly given up to do 
and suffer the will of the Lord, to be sick or well, to 
live or die at any time and in any place, the fields, 


the woods, the house, or the wilderness. Glory be to 
God for such ivsignatinn! I have little to leave 
except a journey of five thousand miles a year, 
care of more than a hundred thousand souls, and 
the arrangement of four hundred preachers yearly, 
to which I may add the murmurs and discontents 
of ministers and people. Who wants this legacy? 
Those who do are welcome to it for me." 

While in Kentucky he paid a visit to his old friend, 
Dr. Hinde, a physician who resided in Clark county. 
Here he was received with the greatest cordiality, and 
treated as a patriarch and the honored father of West- 
ern Methodism. Dr. Hinde was the family physician 
of the celebrated General Wolfe. He was a native of 
England, but came to America with General Wolfe 
in the time of the French war. He had been a pro- 
fessed deist, and a decided enemy to Christianity, but 
was converted from the error of his way through the 
example of his wife. His conversion was brought 
about on this wise. His wife and daughter having 
joined the Methodist Church, the latter was banished 
from home and the former put under medical treat- 
ment for what the doctor feigned to regard as insanity. 
His remedy was a blister plaster extending the whole 
length of the back, which was left on for several 
days. The fortitude and meekness with which the 
Christian wife bore her persecutions resulted in the 
doctor's conviction and subsequent conversion. 


Dr. Hinde was now considerably advanced in 
life, and had not attended to any professional calls 
for many years. At a late hour in the night a 
messenger arrived at his house with two horses, in 
great haste. A neighbor of his in the country had 
been seriously and suddenly attacked with a disease 
which baffled the skill of the physician in attend- 
ance, and at his suggestion Dr. Hinde was sent for. 
When the messenger rapped at the door the doctor 
hoisted the window, and received from him the request 
of the attending physician, that if it was possible he 
would come to his assistance, as the man must have 
relief soon or die. The doctor was in feeble health, 
and replied that he did not think he was able to 
undertake the journey. The night was dark and 
stormy, and the road through the woods rough and 
dangerous. Asbury overheard the conversation, and 
shouted out, " Go, doctor, instantly, and save the 
man's life." " It seemed," as Dr. Hinde afterward 
remarked, " that the voice was as it were from 
heaven," and he could not disobey. He dressed 
himself as quickly as possible, and was soon in the 
saddle of the extra horse, following his guide through 
the dark and tangled thicket of the wood. After 
riding several miles as fast as they could for the 
darkness, they at length arrived at the cabin of the 
sufferer. He found his patient in great agony, and 
apparently dying. He soon, however, detected the 


cause of the disease which was working death, and 
immediately applied a remedy. The man was 
speedily relieved, and early in the morning the 
doctor arrived at home. "When he met Asbury the 
first words that fell upon his ear were, "Well, doctor, 
how is your patient ?" His reply was, " To you, 
bishop, under the blessing of God, that man owes his 
life, as he must have died before morning." " As 
long as you can drag yourself about always be found 
doing something," said the bishop. 

Of this advice Asbury was himself a living exam- 
ple. Neither old age nor sickness, when he could but 
just sit upon his horse, having frequently to be lifted 
to and taken from the saddle, deterred him from the 
work ; he was still found in the discharge of duty. 

About this time several preachers, who had located 
and engaged somewhat in land speculation, were 
handled pretty severely by the bishop in his sermons. 
Speaking of a certain place where there were a num- 
ber of this class, he said : " The place is cursed with 
apostate Methodist preachers, and unless they repent 
and go back to their work God will curse them." In 
many instances this, alas ! proved true. Some who 
had engaged in such speculations, and others who 
had become traders and merchants, failed, and be- 
came hopelessly bankrupt in property and character. 

When the bishop arrived in Tennessee, he writes : 
" What a road w r e have passed ! Certainly the worst 


on the whole continent, even in the best weather ; 
yet bad as it was there were four or five hundred 
crossing the mountains while we were. I was pow- 
erfully struck with the consideration that there were 
at least as many as a thousand emigrants from east to 
west annually. We must take care to send preachers 
after these people. A man who is well mounted will 
scorn to complain of the roads when he sees men, 
women, and children, almost naked, paddling barefoot 
and bare-legged along, or laboring up the rocky 
ascent, while those who are best ofF have only one 
horse for two or three children to ride at once. If 
these adventurers have little or nothing to eat, it is 
no extraordinary circumstance, and not uncommon to 
encamp in the wet woods after night. In the mount- 
ains it does not rain, but pours." 

From Tennessee he traveled through North and 
South Carolina and Georgia, visiting the Churches. 
While in the latter state he took occasion to make a 
few observations on the ignorance of foolish men 
who rail against the government of the Church. 
" The Methodists," he said, "acknowledge no supe- 
riority but what is founded on seniority, election, and 
long and faithful services. For myself, I pity those 
who cannot distinguish between a pope of Rome and 
an old worn man of about sixty years, who has the 
power given him of riding five thousand miles a year, 
at a salary of eighty dollars, through summer's heat 


and winter's c<>ld; traveling in all weathers, preach- 
ing in all places, his l>est covering from rain often a 
blanket; the surest sharpener of his wit, hunger, from 
lasts, voluntary and involuntary ; his best fare for six 
months in the year, coarse kindness ; and his reward 
from too many, suspicion, murmurings, and envy all 
the year round." Well did this faithful servant of 
the Church need a " testimony in heaven and a 
record on high." From Georgia he returned to 
Virginia and held Conference, and from thence 
directed his course to Baltimore, where the General 
Conference was to be held, which ended his conti- 
nental tour this year. 

An incident occurred during this tour of the 
"West, in 1803, which we will relate. After attend- 
ing the Western Conference, near Cynthiana, Ken- 
tucky, where he preached to ten thousand people in 
the woods, he started out, in company with several 
preachers, on his return tour. In the midst of the 
wilderness, between the Crab Orchard and Powell's 
Yalley, he halted one night at a rude log cabin 
tavern, a kind of half-way house in the wilderness. 
The house was filled with a rough company of wild 
mountain hunters. They had been drinking and ca- 
rousing, and when the preachers entered loud oaths 
fell upon their ears from a company around a card- 
table. Low-bred as the landlord was, he had sufficient 
respect left to invite his newly arrived guests into 


another room. One of the bar-room company, an 
old Englishman, on finding that the persons who had 
recently come were preachers, immediately sauntered 
in, and walking up to the bishop, commenced ask- 
ing him some questions on the subject of religion. 
The bishop asked him if he had been seeking 

"O yes," replied the old man, "for a long time, 
but I have not found it yet. I have succeeded in 
one thing; a Baptist preacher has broken me off from 
swearing profanely." 

"Ah," replied the bishop. "Well, keep on 
reforming, and you may come out a good man at 

The bishop evidently had little faith in his sincerity, 
and was afterward abundantly confirmed in his opin- 
ion by hearing him, in a loud voice, cursing and 
swearing in the other room. At length, opening the 
door, the bishop said to him : " You told me a cer- 
tain Baptist preacher had broken you off from 
swearing, but I find you can lie and swear both." 

At this the Englishman approached him and said, 
" I beg your pardon, Bishop Asbury." 

" Ask pardon of God, whose name you have blas- 
phemed ; repent of your sins, and that right speedily, 
or iniquity will prove your ruin." 

This reproof affected the whole company of riot- 
ers, and they soon left the house to quietness and the 


preachers. After supper the bishop had the whole 
family called in, read a chapter in the Bible, gave a 
short lecture, and offered a most fervent prayer. 
Karly next morning, while preparing for their de- 
parture, the landlord came to the bishop with a bot- 
tle and a glass, and asked him to take a little 
whisky. " Nay," said the bishop, " I make no use of 
the devil's tea." 

It was not without some misgivings that the 
preachers started out upon their journey, as the moun- 
tain hunters had among them a class of desperadoes 
who would frequently stop at these wilderness tav- 
erns, and on becoming acquainted with the char- 
acter of the travelers who stopped for the night, 
would leave, and laying aside their hunting dress, 
would paint themselves and put on the garb of In- 
dians, and intercepting the path of the travelers, 
would fall upon and murder and rob them. Preach- 
ers were doubtless often protected from the fact that 
they had but little that would be an object of plun- 
der except their horses. 



General Conference of 130-4 Conferences represented Eatio of Kepre- 
sentation Composition of Eevision of the Discipline Boundaries 

-Presiding Elder Question Kesolution of Garrettson on the Subject 
of Slavery Dr. Coke granted Leave to return to England Perry 
Hall Philadelphia and New York New Haven Middletown 
Conference at Buxton Kemarkable Camp-meetings Quakers in 
Massachusetts Khinebeck The Congregations in New York Ad- 
dress to Quarterly Conferences Secessionists return -O'Kelly's Zeal 

-The Methodist People independent Eailers Conference in Balti- 
more Camp-meeting at Musquito Cove on Long Island Brooklyn 
Regular Succession Asbury's short Way Camp-meeting New York 
Conference New England Conference Yellow Fever at New Haven 

-Prohibited from entering New York and Philadelphia The Alle- 
ghanies Ohio Eiver Wheeling Zanesville Chillicothe Lost 
in the Woods First Visit to Cincinnati Eeply to Dr. Coke's Letter 

-Kesolution in regard to a Delegated General Conference Danger- 
ous Illness of Bishop Whatcoat Camp-meeting at Philip's Manor 
New York Conference Establishing the Episcopacy Mountains of 
Western Virginia Camp-meeting Tour among the Log Cabins of 
the West Encouragement. 

THE General Conference of 1804 was held in Balti- 
more. There were one hundred and twelve mem- 
bers, representatives from seven Conferences, present. 
Seventy were from the Baltimore and Philadelphia 
Conferences, constituting more than two thirds of the 
entire number. Of the remaining portion, twelve 
were from the New York, seventeen from the Vir- 
ginia, four each from the Boston and Western, and 
five from the South Carolina Conferences. The Con- 
ference was composed of all the preachers who had 



traveled four years consecutively since their admis- 
sion on trial in the connection. After adjusting 
some preliminary matters, such as adopting rules 
for the government of the body, and settling the 
question as to who were entitled to seats, the Con- 
ference resolved to proceed to a revision of the Dis- 
cipline. It was agreed that in the revision it should 
be read chapter by chapter, section by section, and 
paragraph by paragraph; that the assent to every 
paragraph which was not debated should be decided 
by the members sitting, and the assent to every para- 
graph which was debated should be decided by the 
members rising. The assent to every section, except 
such parts as had been expunged or abolished, was 
to be decided by rising. 

After settling the question of the boundaries of 
the several Annual Conferences, a long and anima- 
ted discussion was had on the subject of presiding 
elders. The discussion was elicited by a motion 
to abolish the office entirely. The motion, however, 
was lost. In alluding to the debate on this subject, 
Asbury remarked : " Attempts were made upon the 
ruling eldership. We had a great talk. I talked 
little on the subject, and was kept in peace." 

The subject of slavery was introduced by a resolu- 
tion offered by Freeborn Garrettson, the import of 
which was, that the bishops be requested to draft a 
section for the Discipline, embracing such regulations 


and provisions as would adapt it to the southern as 
well as northern states. The action of the last Con- 
ference on the subject had created no little dissatis- 
faction, and especially the Address to the Methodist 
people. The way of the preachers had evidently 
been hedged up in several places, and it was consid- 
ered important that the General Conference should 
modify its action on the subject. Bishop Asbury 
declining to act with the episcopal committee, the 
subject was referred to a committee of seven, who, 
after due deliberation, presented a report which was 
incorporated in the Discipline and made section nine, 
entitled, " Of Slavery." The section contained five 
rules, requiring, 1st. That all who held slaves should 
give security for their emancipation, immediately or 
gradually, as the laws of the states respectively and 
the circumstances of the case would admit; 2d. When 
any traveling preacher became an owner of a slave 
or slaves by any means, he was to forfeit his minis- 
terial standing unless he executed, if practicable, a 
deed of emancipation conformably to the laws of the 
state where he lived ; 3d. ISTo slaveholder was to be 
received into full membership until the preacher in 
charge had spoken to him fully and faithfully on the 
subject; 4. No one who sold a slave, except in cases 
of mercy or humanity, was to be allowed to remain 
in society, and if any one purchased a slave the quar- 
terly meeting Conference was to determine the num- 


her of years the slave should serve as the price of his 
purchase, at the expiration of which time the master 
was to set him free. Other regulations were made 
in regard to female slaves, providing for the manu- 
mission of such of their children as might be born 
during servitude. This and the preceding rules con- 
tained the remarkable proviso exempting the states 
of !N"orth Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia from 
their operation. The fifth and last rule required the 
preachers from time to time, as occasion served, to 
admonish and exhort all slaves to render due respect 
and obedience to the commands and interests of their 
respective masters. 

The Conference, agreeably to the request of the 
European Conferences, granted Dr. Coke leave to 
return to England, with the proviso that at the call 
of three Annual Conferences, in the interval of the 
General Conference, he should come back to the 
United States. In the address of the General Con- 
ference to the British and Irish Conferences, the fol- 
lowing allusion is made to the doctor : " "With respect 
to our much esteemed friend and beloved brother, 
Dr. Coke, we would say, he arrived among us last 
Autumn, and was received by us with sincerest sen- 
timents of respect and affection. Since he came into 
these states he has traveled about three thousand 
miles, visiting our principal societies, and preaching 
to crowded assemblies of our citizens. Your request 


for his return was taken into our most serious and 
solemn consideration, and after a full and deliberate 
examination of the reasons which you assigned in 
favor of his return, we have concluded that there is 
a probability of his being more eminently useful at 
present in the way you point out, than for us to re- 
tain him, especially as our beloved brother Asbury 
now enjoys better health than he did some years 
ago. We therefore have consented to the doctor's 


return to Europe on the express condition that he 
will come back to us at any time when three of our 
Annual Conferences shall call him, or at farthest that 
he shall return to our next General Conference." 

To that favored retreat, Perry Hall, after the Con- 
ference was ended, Asbury directed his course, where, 
after a brief rest, he started out on his Eastern tour, 
holding Conference in Philadelphia and ]N"ew York. 
From the latter place he rode to ]STew Haven, where 
he preached in a small house to a few people. While 
here he entered the following in his Journal : " My 
soul has constant peace and joy, notwithstanding my 
labors, and trials, and reproach, which I heed not, 
though it comes, as it sometimes does, from the good, 
when they are not gratified in all their wishes. Peo- 
ple unacquainted with the causes and motives of my 
conduct will always more or less judge of me improp- 
erly. Six months ago a man could write to me in 
the most adulatory terms to tell me of the unshaken 


confidence reposed in me by preachers and people. 

Behold, his station is changed, and certain measures 

are pursued that do not comport with his views and 

Then I am menaced with the downfall of 


Methodism, and my influence, character, and reputa- 
tion are all to find a grave in its ruins. First, my 
mountain is made so strong I shall never be moved. 
Anon, O man, thou hidest thy face and changest thy 
voice, and I must be troubled forsooth. But I am 
just as secure as ever as to what man can do or say." 

Censure is a tax invariably imposed upon all men 
who rise to eminence in Church or state, and it was 
not to be expected that Asbury would escape. It 
will be seen, however, from the above that he bore 
it with Christian patience and magnanimity. As a 
Christian bishop and father, he did not lay up any- 
thing against those who censured him ; at least, he 
never allowed a remembrance of past injury to weigh 
a feather in the exercise of his episcopal authority in 
stationing the preachers. His motto was to overcome 
evil with good. 

From Xew Haven he went to Middletown, where 
the members of the Church were about purchasing 
a lot whereon to build a small house of worship. The 
Conference had given him Sylvester Hutchinson as 
a traveling companion, who frequently supplied his 
place in the pulpit. Passing through Ehode Island 
and ]S"ew Hampshire, they came to Buxton, where 


the Conference was held, and at which fifty souls 
were converted. Asbury generally considered it a 
barren time if there was no revival at a Conference. 

While journeying through Massachusetts he canae 
to Enfield, near to which was a settlement of the 
Quakers, concerning whom he said, " Poor souls, 
they have landed where all other sects have landed. 
O this love of the world ! But the Shakers are near 
the end of the world : they forbid to marry ; they are 
as the angels in heaven." After passing through a 
portion of Massachusetts, he directed his course to 
B-hinebeck, on the Hudson, where he preached on 
Sabbath in an orchard to about one thousand people. 
The next two or three days he spent at "Widow Sher- 
wood's, and the succeeding Sabbath went to New 
York, where he preached in John-street, complain- 
ing that all the congregations in the city were a 
valley of dry bones. From New York he took his 
usual route through New Jersey, Delaware, and 

At the yearly Conference held in Chestertown, 
Maryland, an address was sent to the Quarterly 
Conference of the Delaware District, embracing 
nearly all the territory now included in the Phila- 
delphia Conference. The Address was written 
and signed by Asbury, and as it is interesting, both 
from its matter and style, we insert it. It bears date 
May 5, 1805, and is as follows : 



you, and peace and love be multiplied. It is scarcely 
possible for you, in your local situation, to have 
correct views of what our God hath done for us as a 
people in the space of thirty-five years. We think 
it a duty we owe to you to make the following state- 
ment. The Gospel, by our ministry, has made a glo- 
rious progress through the seventeen United States, 
the territorial settlements, and Canadian provinces, as 
may be seen by our Annual Minutes. Should we 
compute the distance from St. Mary's, in Georgia, to 
Montreal, in Canada, it would be found to be seven- 
teen or eighteen hundred miles ; and from the ex- 
tremities of the district of Maine to the Xatchez, two 
thousand miles. What but a traveling ministry, and 
a very rapid one too, could so extensively propagate 
the Gospel in the midst of so much opposition. 
There are now more than one hundred thousand 
souls in fellowship with us, and perhaps six times that 
number who look up to us for ministerial services, 
and to hear the word of life, which you know by 
happy experience to be the power of God unto salva- 
tion, as well as many thousands of happy souls whom 
we doubt not have already gone to glory. We have 
upward of four hundred traveling preachers, besides 
about two thousand local preachers and exhorters ; 
a source from whence we can draw supplies to 
strengthen and replenish our traveling connection. 


"We unanimously express our high regard for our 
local brethren, many of whom have long traveled, 
labored, and suffered with us in the vineyard of the 
Lord, and others who would have traveled but for 
secular affairs. Dear brethren, we acknowledge 
your great usefulness. You cheerfully labor with us 
when we are present, preserve the union of the socie- 
ties, keep up the congregations and prayer-meetings 
when we are absent, and your influence can and does 
do much in raising class collections for our support. 
Our apparent increase (in the Philadelphia Confer- 
ence) this year is small, owing in part to migrations 
to new settlements, and the uncommon sickness and 
mortality of last autumn. But when we bring into 
view the great wastage among twenty-eight thousand 
seven hundred and twelve, and the number necessary 
to repair that wastage, w r e shall see that the number 
received must have been very considerable to give us 
an addition of six hundred and twenty-four. 

" Our finances for the present year are better 
than they were last, owing in part to the Albany 
district (where the deficiencies were usually great) 
being attached to the New York Conference, and yet 
many of the preachers were deficient more than 
twenty-three per cent., though they received nothing 
for their children. The circuits which have given 
liberally will please accept our thanks. We have 
received eight preachers upon trial, and discontinued 


from their probation, and are exceedingly sorry 

to add that some of their cases were truly humiliat- 
ing and distressing ; nevertheless the Lord hath in 

n ~ 7 

great mercy blessed us with unusual moderation and 
peace, through the whole of our critical decisions. 

" Dear brethren, we have labored and suffered with 
you and for you, and are willing and determined so 
to do. We have confidence that you will endeavor 
to walk worthy of your vocation, and unite with us in 
all laudable endeavors to promote the Redeemer's 
kingdom. Let us in love continue to watch over and 
pray for each other, keeping the unity of the spirit 
and the bond of peace until we are come to the full- 
ness of the measure of the stature of Christ, that we 
may finally rest with him forever." 

One of the most remarkable camp-meetings ever 
known was held in the autumn of this year near 
the town of Suffolk, in Virginia. The meeting 
commenced on Friday, and was continued with but 
little intermission until Monday night. From the 
very beginning the power of God was wonderfully 
manifested, and during its continuance four hundred 
persons were converted. The accounts of this meet- 
ing which appeared at the time would seem incredible 
had they not been vouched for by those who were 
present. Another meeting of the same description 
was held about ten miles from Wilmington, in North 


Carolina. The revival commenced on the first day 
of the meeting, and continued with increasing interest 
and power until Sabbath. Persons of all descriptions 
and all ages, from, the child nine years of age to the 
hoary-headed sinner, were subjects. The revival did 
not close with the meeting, but spread abroad among 
the surrounding settlements until three hundred were 
converted. A camp-meeting was also held at a place 
called Hampton, belonging to General Eidgeley, 
about ten miles from Baltimore, which lasted four 
days. There were about thirty preachers present, and 
a large number of people were made the subjects of 
converting grace. Meetings of the same description 
were held at Linville's Creek, Rehoboth, and Big 
Levels in Virginia, and in the Mississippi territory, 
some of which lasted more than a week, and at all 
of which numbers were converted. 

Near Uniontown, Pa., Asbury was confined more 
than a month with sickness, and was obliged to 
desist from going to Kentucky. It was a great trial 
to be kept so long from his loved employment ; but 
he bore it with patience. After his recovery he 
passed slowly through Virginia, accompanied by 
Bishop Whatcoat, and continued the journey through 
North and South Carolina. The Conference was 
held in Charleston. On their return through Vir- 
ginia they preached at different points. While at 
Joseph Moody's, Asbury learned of quite a number of 


members who had left the O'Kelly secession and 
returned to the Church. Among the number were 
General Wells and family. Speaking of O'Kelly, the 
bishop says : " He has come down with great zeal, 
and preaches three hours at a time upon government, 
monarchy, and episcopacy, occasionally varying the 
subject by abuse of the Methodists, calling them 
aristocrats and tories, a people who, if they had the 
power, would force the government at the sword's 
point. Poor man, the Methodists have but two of 
their very numerous society members of Congress, 
and until these democratic times we never had one. 
I question if in all the legislative bodies in the seven- 
teen states there are more than twenty Methodists. 


~No ; our people are a very independent people, who 
think for themselves, and so do the preachers, and 
are as apt to differ in politics, and divide at the hust- 
ings as those of any other denomination, and surely 
they are not seekers of the offices of this world's 
profit or honor ; if they were, what might they not 
gain in many parts of the United States ! While one 
rails at us, others, who are always fond of fishing in 
troubled waters, take those who are already in our 
net, or, hunting on forbidding ground, pick up our 
crippled game." 

After holding Conference in Virginia Asbury 
returned in the spring to Baltimore, where Con- 
ference was opened on the first of April, 1805. 


From hence he and Whatcoat started eastward, 
preaching at different places in Delaware, New Jer- 
sey, and Pennsylvania until they arrived in New 
York. While here Asbury attended a camp-meeting 
at Musquito Cove, on Long Island, and preached to 
a vast multitude on Sabbath. The meeting was at- 
tended with a gracious outpouring of the Spirit, and 
many were converted. On Monday evening he re- 
turned to Brooklyn and preached. He and What- 
coat preached also in New York, and then started 
for "White Plains, where they held services on 


About this time there was a considerable discus- 
sion going on in the state on the subject of the regu- 
lar succession, and the consequent right to administer 
the ordinances. Asbury's short way of meeting the 
objections to his authority was presented on this wise: 
1. Divine authority ; 2. Seniority in America ; 3. The 
election of the General Conference; 4. Ordination 
by Dr. Coke, Kev. W. P. Otterbein, of the German 
Keformed Church, and Kevs. Eichard Whatcoat and 
Thomas Yasey ; 5. Showing the signs of an apostle. 
He might have rested his authority in the first con- 
sideration, namely, his Divine call to the ministry, 
for it is not to be presumed that God will call any 
man to this great work and at the same time not 
invest him with authority to administer all the ordi- 
nances connected therewith. The call is of itself 


prima facie evidence of the authority, and the fact 
that souls are converted and saved through his instru- 
mentality is proof that the minister is an embassador 
for God, invested with plenipotentiary power to tran- 
sact all the business pertaining to the Divine vocation. 
From White Plains they crossed the Peekskill 
mountains, and after spending the Sabbath at Hhine- 
beck, they passed through Claverack, Kinderhook, 
Lansingburgh, and "Waterford, on to Stillwater, where 
a camp-meeting was to be held. At this meeting 
there were preachers from Canada, Vermont, Massa- 
chusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. 
The meeting lasted four days and was very largely 
attended. From the camp-meeting the bishops pro- 
ceeded to Ashgrove, where the New York Confer- 
ence was held. Leaving the banks of the Hudson 
they crossed the Berkshire mountains by Pittsfield, 
descended the valley of the Connecticut, and pro- 
ceeded to Lynn, where they met the New England 
Conference, and returned by Wilbraham, Hartford, 
and New Haven to New York. They were not per- 
mitted, however, to enter the citv, because thev had 

/ / / / 

passed through New Haven, where the yellow fever 
was prevailing. On arriving at Philadelphia they 
were for the same reason debarred entrance to that 
city, and they accordingly directed their course west- 
ward across the Alleghany Mountains to Pittsburgh. 
From thence they proceeded down the Ohio to 


Wheeling, and across the country, by Zanesville, to 
Chillicothe, where they enjoyed the hospitalities of 
Hon. Edward Tiffin, then governor of the State of 
Ohio. Leaving Chillicothe for the Falls of Paint 
Creek, they lost their path and wandered about in 
the woods until they brought up at Bullskin, where 
they were kindly entertained by Michael Haines, 
who conducted them on their w r ay. From this point 
they struck for the Little Miami and reached the 
house of Judge Gatch. Here they held meeting on 
the Sabbath. While here a messenger came from 
Cincinnati inviting the bishops to visit that place, 
and on Monday, the 15th of September, 1805, As- 
bury for the first time entered what has since become 
the Queen City of the West. He preached in the 
house of Mr. William Lines from the text, " Seek ye 
the Lord while he may be found." 

Crossing the Ohio at Cincinnati they went through 
Kentucky to the Holstein, and from thence over the 
mountains through North Carolina, South Carolina, 
and Georgia. Asbury was accompanied in this tour 
by Joseph Crawford, who did most of the preaching 
on the way. Having attended the Southern Confer- 
ences, he returned and held Conference in Virginia, 
and proceeded on to Baltimore. Among other busi- 
ness transacted at this Conference was the drawing 
up of a reply to Dr. Coke's letter, and the passage of 
a resolution requesting the bishop to lay it before all 


the annual Conferences for concurrence. The Con- 
ference also by resolution recommended all the An- 
nual Conferences to take into consideration the pro- 
priety of having the General Conference composed 
of delegates, for the purpose of securing a more equal 
representation than had heretofore been had by the 
Southern, Western, and Eastern Conferences. His 
next Conference was Philadelphia, which he at- 
tended, and where he heard of the dangerous illness 
of Bishop Whatcoat at Dover. From hence he went 
to 2s" ew York, and visited the ground at Philip's 
Manor selected for a camp-meeting. He rested two 
days at " Sherwood's Yale," as it was in the vicinity 
of the camp-ground. The meeting began on Friday. 
On Sabbath he preached, and had what he called "an 
open season/' At this meeting there were about one 
thousand Methodists and about six thousand people. 
As to the result, about two hundred were converted. 
On Friday, the 16th of May, 1806, Conference was 
held in New York. At this Conference a paper was 
read setting forth the uncertain state of the episco- 
pacy, and proposing the election of seven elders from 
the seven Conferences to meet in Baltimore on July 
the 4th, 1807, for the sole purpose of establishing the 
American episcopacy on a surer foundation. The 
Conference, by resolution, requested the bishop to 
pass the paper around among the Conferences for 
concurrence. During this Conference preaching 


was held in the " Park " as well as in the Methodist 
churches, and a day of fasting and prayer was set 
apart for the health of the city. 

After Conference he took his usual Eastern tour, 
holding the New England Conference in New Hamp- 
shire. On his return he passed through New Jersey, 
Maryland, and Virginia, on to Tennessee, where the 
Western Conference was held. It was here that the 
poverty of the preachers was such as to induce him 
to part with his watch, and coat, and shirt to relieve 
their necessities. Passing through North and South 
Carolina, he went down into Georgia, where he was 
lost in the woods and camped out all night. He 
held Conference at Sparta. The paper in relation to 
the delegated General Conference was adopted, and 
the delegates to the elders' meeting in Baltimore 
elected. This Conference closed up the labors of the 
year 1806, and with it the fifth decade of American 





Mountains of "Western Virginia Camp-meeting Scenes Asbnry's Visit 
Eev. Henry Boehm Reese "Wolf Hockhocking Preaching 
Tour through Ohio Pioneer Settlers Log Cabins Hospitable but 
hard Fare Asbury's Lecture Interesting Incident Love-feast 
One of Asbury's Converts Virginia Hospitality Social Gathering 
Description of Guests Subjects of Conversation. 

AMONG the mountains of Western Virginia the 
pioneer Methodist preacher had formed his circuit, 
and established preaching places in the cabins of the 
settlers. Camp-meetings were generally held in the 
valley of the Kanawha during the summer months, 
where from various and distant parts of the wilder- 
ness the people would congregate and pitch their 
tents. Hundreds and thousands would collect 
together upon such occasions, and the native forests 
would be made vocal with the praises of the assem- 
bled throng. Preachers from adjoining circuits and 
districts would attend these annual feasts, and, with a 
fervency and zeal characteristic of pioneer preachers, 
they would pour forth strains of burning eloquence 
that would find their way to the most impenitent 
hearts ; and multitudes to whom the Gospel would 
otherwise perhaps never have come, were made the 
happy subjects of converting grace. 


On one of Bishop Asbury's Western tours he was 
invited by a presiding elder to accompany him to one 
of these encampments. He was now in the sixty-fifth 
year of his age, and though worn down with the 
fatigues of long weary rides, and incessant labors, 
still he was determined to toil on, unwilling that any 
part of his vast field should be neglected. The 
presiding elder, who w r as the Rev. James Quinn, of 
precious memory, thus describes this visit : 

" It was in the month of September, in the West 
one of the most bland and beautiful months of the 
year, that we pitched our tents in a beautiful sugar- 
grove on the lands of Richard Lee, two miles above 
Parkersburg, on the banks of the Kanawha. It was 
at the time of full moon and at night. The camp 
was w r ell illuminated with pine lights. The meeting 
commenced under the most auspicious circumstances, 
and from the beginning to the close we had evidences 
of the presence and approval of the great Head of the 
Church, in the conviction and conversion of many 
souls, and the upbuilding of believers in the most 
holy faith. Having retired to the preachers' tent for 
some relaxation and rest, the work still going on in 
the camp, about ten o'clock a person came to the 
tent and informed me that an old man at the gate- 
way wished to see me. I arose and went forthwith, 
and to my great surprise and joy, who should I see 
in the clear moonlight, but the venerable Asbury and 


his traveling companion the Rev. Henry Boehm. 
I conducted him to the house of Richard Lee, and 
said to him, Rest and be happy for the night. You 
are now in the house of the brother of your old 
friend, Rev. Wilson Lee. At this the good old man 
appeared to be pleased, nor were Brother and Sister 
Lee less gratified at having the privilege of entertain- 
ing, if not unawares, at least unexpectedly, that angel 
of the Church below. I returned to the encamp- 
ment, and witnessed a glorious night of the presence 
and power of the Most High. The bishop had a 
good night's rest, which he said was the first he had 
enjoyed since he left Wheeling, and he came on the 
ground quite early in fine spirits, expressing himself 
highly pleased with the arrangements and good order 
which he saw on the camp ground. He preached 
twice during the meeting with great life, light, and 
power. Surely the Lord helped him and great good 
was done. He also ordained a preacher who had 
been elected by the Baltimore Conference to the 
office of an elder. 

" Our camp-meeting closed well on Monday morn- 
ing, and we repaired to Brother Reese Wolf's, the 
old local preacher who led the way, and invited 
Methodism on to the Little Kanawha, by the itiner- 
ant preachers, in 1799. Here we met a kind recep- 
tion, and rested till next morning. At three o'clock 
the bishop preached a plain and powerful sermon in 


Parkersburgh, which was a small place then. O 
what awful appeals to the understanding and to the 
heart ! There was no daubing with untempered 

" We crossed over the Ohio into Belpre, and were 
kindly received and lodged at the house of Esq. B. 
The lady of the house was an intelligent old lady, 
from the land of steady habits, who had heard White- 
field preach, and was greatly delighted in seeing and 
conversing with the Methodist bishop. But O, her 
regrets on account of the great privations in coming 
to the West : ' Yonder we had such fine meeting- 
houses, comfortable pews, organs, and such delightful 
singing ; and then, O such charming preachers ! O 
bishop, you can't tell !' etc. ' Yes, yes,' said the 
bishop, ' old Connecticut for all the world : 

"A fine house and a high steeple, 
A learned priest and a gay people." 

But where shall we look for Gospel simplicity and 
purity ? Let us go back to the days of the Pilgrim 
fathers.' c Well, bishop, who are you going to send to 
us next year? I hope you will send us a very good 
preacher.' ' Come, send you a good preacher !' 
'Yes, sir; don't you send them just where you 
please ?' It was evident that the bishop was disposed 
to waive the subject, upon which one present said, 
' Madam, I'll tell you how it is ; we send him and tell 


him to send us, and then he must come and see us; 
for he must travel at large, and oversee the whole 
work, and must not stop without our leave.' ' In- 
deed ! TVell, now I guess I understand it better. 
"Well, well, bishop, where do you live ?' 

' No foot of land do I possess, 

No cottage in this wilderness, 

A poor wayfaring man.' 

At this the old lady appeared much surprised, and 
so the conversation closed. 

"Next morning we started very early, and called 
at several farm-houses on the way down the river, 
whose inmates were not Methodists, and the good 
man prayed with them all. Indeed, I have seldom 
known him to leave a family without prayer, whether 
they were professors or not, for he was always intent 
upon doing good. At three o'clock he preached in 
a school-house opposite Blennerhasset's Island; and 
truly it might be said of the sermon, as I once heard 
him say of Horneck's Great Law of Consideration, 
'It was a dagger, to the hilt at every stroke.' After 
preaching we were kindly invited by Col. Putnam, 
son of Gen. Putnam, of the Revolution, to the house 
of his son, Major Putnam, where we were treated 
with every attention. Some six or eight of the prin- 
cipal men, with their ladies, came in to see and spend 
the evening with the Methodist bishop. Most of 


these were Revolutionary meu. The conversation of 
the evening was quite of an interesting character, in 
which the bishop took a lively part. But ever and 
anon an important religious sentiment was thrown in, 
or a moral application made, to which the company 
bowed silent assent, their countenances, in the mean 
time, showing that the weight was felt. The evening 
closed with devotional services. The company re- 
tired, and we were conducted to our lodgings; and 
where should we find ourselves but in the splendid 
ball-room. ' Here,' said the bishop, ' they were wont 
to worship the devil ; but let us worship God.' I 
was informed that the decree was passed soon after, 
that no more balls were to be held there. Next 
morning we set out for Athens. As we were crossing 
Little Hockhocking, I said : c Here, Mr. Asbury, in 
1800, the man used to set me over ferriage free, say- 
ing he never charged ministers or babes ; for if they 
do no good they do no harm.' ' Ah,' said he, ' that is 
not true of ministers ; for the minister who does no 
good does much harm.' We reached Athens on 
Friday at noon, and commenced our camp -meeting. 
It went on well, and closed well on the fourth day, 
and the bishop left us in good spirits for Chillicothe, 
having preached two powerful sermons. In making 
his tour, he had diverged from a straight road at 
least fifty miles, and added to his journey more than 
one hundred miles. "What love had he for the 


souls of men, as the purchase of the Redeemer's 
blood !" 

Another interesting reminiscence is given by the 
same writer, in which he describes a tour with As- 
bury through Ohio. The sketch thus runs: "I once 
had the pleasure of accompanying Bishop Asbury 
ten days on one of his Western tours through the 
then infant state of Ohio in the days of log-cabins; 
and they were not such unsightly things, if coon and 
wildcat-skins were hanging round the walls, and deer 
horns strewed over the roof, and wild turkeys' wings 
sticking about in the cracks, for they were, with few 
exceptions, the best dwellings in the land. Well, in 
many of these we met a smiling welcome, and were 
most hospitably entertained, and the good bishop 
always made himself pleasant and cheerful with the 
families, so that they soon forgot all embarrassment, 
and appeared as easy in their feelings as if they had 
received the bishop into ceiled and carpeted parlors, 
as some of them had in the old states. Some of them 
were very neat and clean, fitted up in good taste, 
which showed that if madam could not play on the 
piano-forte she had taken' lessons from Israel's wise 
king, and knew well how to look to the affairs of her 
house if it was a cabin. It must be confessed, how- 
ever, that all were not so ; for it was our sad lot to 
fall in with one or two that were miserably filthy and 
fearfully infested with vermin. This was a heavy tax 


on the feelings of the poor bishop, for he had as fair, 
and as clear, and thin a skin as ever came from En- 
gland, and in him the sense of smelling and tasting 
were most exquisite. But, dear souls, they were as 
kind as you please, and the bishop did not hurt their 
feelings, but prayed for them, and talked good to 
them. Many of them have got better houses since 
that time, have made good improvements, and their 
daughters have come out quite polished. But we 
got to quarterly meeting, for he was passing my dis- 
trict, and a most blessed season we had : sinners 
awakened, souls converted, believers quickened, 
backsliders reclaimed. O the Master of assemblies 
was with us of a truth ! Quarterly meeting Confer- 
ence came on. ' Well, Mr. Asbury, you will attend 
with us and preside?' 'No, son,' was the reply; 'let 
every man stand in his lot and do his part of the 
work ; when you shall have got through your busi- 
ness let me know and I will come and see you.' So 
we went to business pretty expeditiously, expecting 
an address from the bishop. We had no long, tough 
speeches, and those repeated, but went through, 
brought our business to a close in due time, and sent 
a messenger to inform him that we were ready to 
receive him. He came, took the chair, and after a 
short pause commenced taking notice of the infancy 
of the state, the infancy of the Church, the toils and 
privations, the trials and temptations, peculiar to 


such a state of tilings, and the great necessity of 
watchfulness and prayer, and diligent attendance on 
the means of grace, both public and private. He 
spoke of his own toils, cares, and anxieties with some 
emotion ; of the great and glorious extension and 
spread of the work of God in the East and South, 
also in the West and Southwest, both among the 
Methodists and other Christian people. He spoke 
with much feeling. * But the Quarterly Conference, 
the importance of this branch of our ecclesiastical 
economy, " to hear complaints, to receive and try ap- 
peals" and thus guard the rights and privileges of 
the membership against injury from an incorrect ad- 
ministration ; to try, and even expel, preachers, dea- 
cons, and elders ; to examine, license, and recommend 
to office in the local department ; to recommend for 
admission into the traveling connection persons as 
possessing grace, gifts, and usefulness for the great 
and important work of the Gospel ministry ; surely 
you will see and feel the highly responsible station 
which you fill as members of this body. We send 
you our sons in the Gospel to minister to you the 
word of life and watch over your souls as they that 
must give account. That they may become men, 
men of God and even fathers among you, help them 
in their great work ; and that you may help them 
understandingly, read, mark, learn, and inwardly 
digest your excellent Discipline. . It is plain, simple, 


and Scriptural. It is true, speculative minds may 
find or make difficulties where there are none. [I 
am not ashamed to confess that I learned something 
during this lecture that I thought well worth taking 
care of.] But a few words about your manner of 
living at the present. You are now in your log- 
cabins, and busily engaged in clearing out your 
lands. Well, think nothing of this. I have been a 
man of cabins for these many years, and I have 
been lodged in many a cabin as clean and sweet as a 
palace ; and I have slept on many coarse, hard beds, 
which have been as clean and as sweet as water and 
soap could make them, and not a flea nor a bug to 
annoy. [Here I had to hang my head. Dear old 
gentleman, he had not forgotten the other night 
when he got no sleep.] Keep,' said the bishop, ' the 
whisky-bottle out of your cabins, away far from your 
premises. Never fail in the offering up of the morn- 
ing and evening sacrifice with your families. Keep 
your cabins clean for your healths' sake and for your 
souls' sake, [put this on to your wives and daughters,] 
for there is no religion in dirt, and filth, and fleas. 
But,' said he, ' of this no more. If you do not wish 
the Lord to forsake your cabin, do not forsake his ; 
you will lose nothing, but be gainers, even in tem- 
poral things, by going and taking your household 
with you, even on a week day ; you cannot all have 
Sabbath preaching. It is time we close for evening 


service.' A low words more in commending us 
to God and the word of his grace, and then what 
a pra\vr! how spiritual, how fervent, how fully 
adapted to the state of the country and the Church 
as they then were ! Truly, it might be said, he was 
mighty in prayer." 

On one of Asbury's excursions, after traveling 
hard through a Western wilderness to reach a quar- 
terly meeting which lay on his route to a distant 
Conference, he was unusually tempted at not having 
seen, for some time, any direct fruit of his per- 
sonal labor in the conversion of souls. He felt in- 
clined to the belief that his mission had expired, and 
he had better retire from the work. With this de- 
pression of spirit he entered the love-feast on Sab- 
bath morning, in a rude log chapel in the w r oods, and 
took his seat, unknown to any, in the back part of 
the congregation. After the usual preliminary exer- 
cises had been gone through with by the preacher, 
an opportunity was given for the relation of Chris- 
tian experience. One after another testified of the 
saving grace of God, and occasionally a verse of 
some hymn was sung, full of rich and touching 
melody. The tide of religious feeling was rising and 
swelling in all hearts, while a lady rose whose plain 
but exceedingly neat attire indicated that she was a 
Methodist. Her voice was full and clear, though 
slightly tremulous. She had traveled many miles to 


the meeting, and her feelings would not allow her to 
repress her testimony. She remarked that she had 
not long been a follower of Christ. "Two years 
ago," said she, " I was attracted to a Methodist meet- 
ing in our neighborhood by being informed that 
Bishop Asbury was going to preach. I went, and 
the Spirit sealed the truth he uttered on my heart. 
I fled to Jesus and found redemption in his blood, 
even the forgiveness of my sins, and have been 
happy in his love ever since. 

" ' Not a cloud doth arise to darken my skies, 
Or hide for a moment my Lord from my eyes.' " 

She sat down, and ere the responses which her 
remarks had awakened in all parts of the house had 
died away, Bishop Asbury was on his feet. He com- 
menced by remarking that " he was a stranger and 
pilgrim, halting on his way for rest and refreshment 
in the house of God, and that he had found both ; 
and," said he, with uplifted hands, while tears of joy 
coursed each other freely down his face, "if I can only 
be instrumental in the conversion of one soul in trav- 
eling round the continent, I'll travel round till I die." 

The following story was told us by Father Finley : 
"When Asbury was spending a few weeks in one of the 
cities of the Union, and preaching every day, he was 
refreshed in spirit by witnessing the conversion of a 
number of souls. Among them was a young lady. 


She had just returned from a fashionable boarding- 
school, having finished the course of study, and hav- 
ing received a diploma setting forth her attainments 
and accomplishments. Special attention had been 
bestowed upon her musical education. She had a 
voice of great power and melody, and her perform- 
ance on the piano exhibited rare attainments in the 
art. Her father was a gentleman of wealth, and took 
great pride in his daughter. At fashionable parties 
she was a star of general attraction, and her musical 
power, as well as prepossessing appearance and man- 
ners, made her society extremely desirable. 

This gifted and accomplished young lady was in- 
duced to go one evening to hear Asbury. His voice 
and manner riveted her attention, and ere she was 
aware, as the man of God presented the claims of 
religion upon the young, her heart was touched. 
She yielded to the persuasive power of the Gospel, 
and in penitence sought and found the blessings of 
religion. Her conversion was as sudden as it was 
unexpected by her friends, but it was, nevertheless, 
clear and genuine. ]S"o place to her was now so 
attractive as the house of God, and thither she 
wended her steps from evening to evening, enjoying 
the rapturous bliss 

" Of a soul in its earliest love." 

Of course, it was not long until the change wrought 

upon her by the power of the Gospel was known to 


her parents, who, strange to say, felt grieved and 
indignant at the result. They were worldly and 
thoughtless, not only neglecting the claims of relig- 
ion themselves, but wholly careless in regard to their 
children. Their only object was to fit them for mov- 
ing in fashionable circles, and no pains or expense 
were spared to effect it. 

To win her back to the world was now the design 
of the father. He was too much of a gentleman, and 
had too much respect for himself and the proprieties 
of life, to resort to any coercive measures. He ac- 
cordingly brought around her the thoughtless and 
the gay of her companions, and threw her as often as 
possible into their society. Naturally amiable, and 
loving her parents with all the devotion of an affec- 
tionate child, she yielded to her father's requests to 
visit different places of mirth and gayety ; and though 
she did not put on the morose look of cloistered piety, 
yet she was serenely quiet and affable in her man- 
ners, preserving the true dignity of the Christian. 
She had a heartfelt joy to which the worldly are 
strangers, and while she felt sympathy for the pur- 
suers of shadows, she allowed not her anxiety for 
their spiritual welfare to destroy their brief uncertain 
joy. She preferred holding up the light of a Chris- 
tian example in a calm, quiet, unobtrusive manner, 
rather than to resort to any effort to convince them 
of the error of their way. All the efforts of her father 


were, however, of no avail to lure her from the pur- 
pose she had formed to lead a religious life. 

As a last resort he gave a large party, and sent out 
invitations to the most worldly and fashionable of the 
city. The evening at length arrived ; the company 
came together ; all was a scene of gayety and mirth, 
for the pleasure-loving throng were there. In the 
midst of this scene it was arranged that she should be 
invited to sing and play on the piano one of those 
fashionable airs to which they had been wont to listen 
with so much interest previous to her conversion. 
She made no objection as she was led by her father 
to the piano. Taking her seat, she commenced in a 
strain the most touching, because it came from her 
heart, and sang, with a full clear voice, that beautiful 
hymn of Charles Wesley : 

"No room for mirth or trifling here, 
For worldly hope or worldly fear, 

If life so soon is gone ; 
If now the Judge is at the door, 
And all mankind must stand before 

The inexorable throne. 

" No matter which my thoughts employ 
A moment's misery or joy; 

But O ! when both shall end, 
Where shall I find my destined place ? 
Shall I my everlasting days 
With fiends or angels spend ? 


" Nothing is worth a thought beneath 
But how I may escape the death 

That never, never dies ; 
How make mine own election sure, 
And when I fail on earth secure 

A mansion in the skies." 

She had not sung through one verse before her 
father, who stood by her side, was seen to drop his 
head. Every whisper ceased, and the most intense 
feeling was evidently pervading the entire company. 
Every word was distinctly heard, and each seemed 
an arrow from the Spirit's quiver going directly to 
the hearts of the hearers. When she ceased her 
father was gone. His feelings were too great to be 
suppressed, and he sought another room, where he 
gave vent to his tears. Mary had conquered, and 
from that hour she was free from the allurements of 
the world. For many years she lived to adorn her 
profession, and then went up to join the song of the 
redeemed in heaven. 

In the summer of 1802 Asbury spent a few days 
in the vicinity of Stevensburg, Virginia, at the house 
of his warm-hearted brother, Rev. Elisha Phelps, 
where he received his friends. The Rev. James 
Quinn thus describes the interview : " A most inter- 
esting company convened at this lovely country resi- 
dence, where true Virginia hospitality, in old style, 
stood ready to receive them with smiling welcome. 


386 Lll -'I-: AND TIMl.S OF 

soon as the company were seated in the not splen- 
did but iK'Utly arranged parlor, in order that all 
things might be sanctified by the word of God and 
prayer, the bishop, in his usually laconic and com- 
prehensive style, addressed the throne of grace. 
Although the prayer was short, it seemed to take in 
all for which man or minister should pray. O how 
much unprofitable, not to say vain, repetition do we 
sometimes hear in the long prayers of some well-dis- 
posed persons ! Kot so prayed Asbury. The prayer 
concluded, the company resumed their seats; and what 
then ? Light chit-chat, mixed with peals of laughter, 
in which all persons talk and no one hears? Xo, no; 
it was ' the feast of reason and the flow of soul.' In 
a free flow of conversation on a variety of interesting 
topics, chiefly of a moral and religious character. The 
state of the Old World, in religion and politics, occu- 
pied part of the time. The revolutions in Europe, the 
shaking of thrones, the fulfillment of prophecy, the 
overthrow of the beast and the false prophet ; Xew- 
ton, Faber, Bengelius, and Wesley, on the fulfillment 
of prophecy ; infidelity in Europe and America ; the 
spread of the Gospel, the rolling of the stone cut out 
of the -mountains, the glorious 1836, which, accord- 
ing to some, was to usher in the glories of the Millen- 
nium ; these, together with the state affairs in our own 
America, God maintaining his own cause, making 
bare his arm, pouring out his Spirit gloriously on 


different branches of his Church, etc., entered largely 
into the social entertainments of that pleasant day. 

" And now, if I could, I would most cheerfully give 
the reader a minute description of that social band. 
I fear a failure, but will try. Well, then, here were 
our host, Rev. E. Phelps, and hostess. He had been 
a traveling preacher of respectable talents. His 
heart was still warm in the cause, though he had 
retired from the work. His open, good-natured coun- 
tenance told his guests that they were welcome, and 
that was enough. His deeply-pious lady, somewhat 
in advance of him in years, was of the olden style, 
a sensible, well-informed woman, without the tinsel 
and frippery of modern etiquette. She was a daugh- 
ter of Colonel Hyte, of Revolutionary fame. Her 
orderly movements and countenance beaming with 
good-nature, said to her friends, Feel yourselves 

" Then here was Mr. Asburv, in better health than 

i/ f 

usual, and in fine spirits ; I never saw him in a 
more cheerful and pleasant mood ; for the Lord was 
then gloriously pouring out his Spirit in many places, 
and many souls were coming home to God ; and this 
always cheered the heart of the good man. 

" That tall, swarthy southerner, of ministerial garb 
and mien, who was that ? That was Rev. Philip 
Bruce, a bachelor. He brought good news from the 
south of Virginia. His district was all in a flame. 


" Well, that somewhat robust, fine-looking gentle- 
man, with black band, in Virginia cotton homespun, 
and that sickly-looking lady near him, who are they? 
That was Rev. Samuel Mitchell, of Bottetourt, Va. 
He was a whole-souled Virginian, who by word and 
deed carried out the first principles of the doctrine 
contained in the Declaration of American Independ- 
ence. His heart was all on fire. The news of the 
great work of God in West Tennessee and Kentucky 
had just come to hand by private letters. In his 
amiable lady we saw and admired the power and 
loveliness of blessed Christianity, fortifying the mind 
and cheering the heart, while sweet resignation sat 
smiling at the approach of death. A few months 
more and she slept in Jesus, and all was well. 

" But there is still another interesting figure, some- 
what robust but not corpulent, a fine manly face, and 
smiling countenance. Well, that was Dr. J. Tildon, 
a local preacher. He had been a captain in the Rev- 
olution, held a certificate of membership in the CIN- 
CINNATI, with Washington's signature as president of 
the society. He was interesting in conversation. 

" That aged lady in black ? That was Dr. Tildon's 
mother. She had lived more than seventy years. 
She was waiting her change and ripening for heaven. 

"And that interesting lady, whose head and hair 
were naturally white as pure wool, and an eye beam- 
ing with intelligence ? That was the doctor's 


lady.; she knew when to speak and when to keep 

" Here, also, was Dr. William M'Dowell, late of 
Chillicothe, at that time in the prime of life, a man of 
most dignified appearance : his raven locks, hanging 
in ringlets, were beginning to be sprinkled with gray, 
and the fine Irish bloom was yet glowing on his 
cheek. He had been a successful traveling preacher, 
but had retired from the field of toil and privation. 
This was often a subject of regret to him. His 
amiable wife was also present, all vivacity of body 
and mind : she had a smiling, talking eye, and when 
she spoke it was with wisdom, and what she said was 
worth attention and memory. 

" And this ruddy Englishman, who looked as if he 
was always in a good humor with himself and every- 
body else ; often laughed heartily, but not at his own 
wit ? That was Brother Mason, the watchmaker, quite 
gentlemanly in his manners. And that meek, neat 
lady, of Quaker appearance ? That was Sister Mason. 
In her we saw a pattern of neatness and piety. 

" Here, too, was the pious widow of the Rev. B. 
Talbot. While her countenance well expressed the 
meekness and sweetness of resignation, it seemed to 
say, ' Pity me, pity me, O ye my friends ; for the 
hand of the Lord hath touched me.' Sympathies 
were well expressed in those kind and gentle atten- 
tions which are calculated to soothe and cheer the 


bereaved heart, and no gloom was cast over the 

" And now I must make you acquainted with my 
colleague, the Rev. Edward Matthews, a Welshman, 
and not long from his native land, with the fire, man- 
ners, and dialect of his country, a pleasant and com- 
panionable man, and zealous in the cause of God. 
He was modest and reserved, but Mr. Asbury and the 
Virginians led him out and made him feel at home. 


" But it is proper that I should notice one other 
circumstance, which added much to the religious 
sociabilities of the day : it was music, sweet, spirit- 
stirring music. It charmed the ear and warmed the 
heart. T\ T e had six or eight intellectual musical 
instruments in our company, which the Lord himself 
had strung and tuned. The Methodists used only 
such in that day. "With these we occasionally made 
melody in our hearts to the Lord. In this exercise 
Dr. M'Dowell took the lead, for he had the best 
instrument in the company, and could use it with skill. 
He sounded the key-note, all the rest chiming. O it 
was heart-warming, soul-animating ! 

" The writer of this reminiscence was also one of the 
company. But he was the junior of all present; 
at that time a student of the fourth year in the Meth- 
odist Theological Seminary, which had its establish- 
ment in all the United States, and a few branches in 
the western wilds, and a backwoodsman withal ; it 


behooved him, therefore, to be swift to hear and slow 
to speak. But being now in ' good company,' he 
resolved to take a lesson or two on good behavior 
and Christian politeness, and also gather a few good 
thoughts on divinity ; for in those days he was all eye 
and ear, and constantly on the look-out ; he was 
studying men as well as a few good books. In due 
time we were summoned to the dining-room. Upon 
approaching the table, the bishop tuned his musical 
powers, a deep-toned, yet mellow bass, to 

1 Be present at our table, Lord, 
Be here and everywhere adored ; 
Thy people bless, and grant that we 
May feast in paradise with thee.' 

The blessing asked, and all were seated old Virginia 
for all the world; and for once we partook of food, 
ate our bread with singleness of heart ; the decanters 
with wine or stronger drink were neither on the table 
nor sideboard ; but we had a fresh supply of new wine 
just from the kingdom. From the dining-room we 
returned to the parlor, and again united our musical 
powers in one of the songs of Zion, then bowed 
before the sprinkled throne, and found access by one 
Spirit, through the one and only Mediator, to the God 
of all consolation. The afternoon passed pleasantly 
and profitably away on subjects of conversation. We 
had just entered the nineteenth century. Here were 
those who had lived and witnessed many of the 


scenes of more than half of the eighteenth century ; 
the prophecies which (in whole or in part) in the Old 
and Xew World, had been fulfilled, and what would 
probably take place in the fulfillment of prophecy 
during the century on which we had just entered. 
Glorious things were anticipated, and we were ready 
to think that the beast and the false prophet would 
both be overthrown, and Satan bound and imprisoned. 
Well almost half of that century has passed away, 
and these things have not yet taken place ; but the 
Lord hath said that he would make short work in 
the earth; 

'And what his mouth in truth hath said, 
His own almighty hand shall do.' 

But the day was now far spent, the shadows of even- 
ing were lengthening out, and the time for parting 
came, when all met in the parlor, and tuned our 
well-strung instruments in lofty strains to 

' The Lord into his garden comes, 
The spices yield a rich perfume, 
The lilies grow and thrive,' etc. 

and then the parting prayer and benediction by Mr. 
Asbury. O, it was a season not soon to be forgotten, 
it savored of heaven ! 



Asbury in the far South Conference at Newbern, North Carolina 
Baltimore Conference Virginia Delaware Philadelphia Green 
Mountains, Vermont Conference in Boston Lakes Moravians at 
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania First Conference northwest of the Ohio - 
Indian Invasion Shakers at Lebanon, Ohio Philip Gatch's Cin- 
cinnati Camp-meeting Additions to the Hymn Book Charleston 
-Western Conference Conference at Alexandria Perry Hall in 
Mourning General Conference in Baltimore New Church in Eutaw- 
street dedicated Portrait of Asbury taken by Order of the General 
Conference Whatcoat Coke's Proposal to divide the Continent into 
Two separate Dioceses Bishop White Affair M'Kendree elected 
Bishop Western Pioneer Memorial of New York Conference Re- 
strictive Eules Subject of Slavery Proposal to strike the Section 
from the Discipline First Two Paragraphs retained Asbury's Mo- 
tion Asbury and Boehm Western Travels Indiana Regulation 
on Slavery Crosses the Wilderness Asbury and M'Kendree in a 
Thirty Dollar Chaise Rembert's Chapel Virginia Conference - 
Attempt to prejudice Slaveholders against the Methodists New York 
and New England Presbyterians Cincinnati Camp-meeting " Old 
Stone " - Conference Baltimore Hospitality - - Pittsfield " Perpet- 
ual Hills" Boston South called on to assist Boston Methodists 
Lee's History Comments Review Life in the Mountains Awful 
Wilderness Discipline translated into German West Governor 
Worthin,cjton Virginia Great Fire in New York Genesee Confer- 
ence Wise Men of New York Conference Mad River Dayton, 
Ohio South Carolina. 

THE opening of the sixth decade of American 
Methodism found the toil-worn Asbury in the far 
South. His New Years' dinner was taken in the 
woods on his route to Columbia, South Carolina. 
He was redeeming time by riding three hundred 
miles a week, and preaching on the route. At 


Xewbern, North Carolina, he held Conference, 
preaching several times during the session. From 
hence he passed on through Virginia to Baltimore, 
where he preached on the Sabbath, and opened the 
Conference on Monday. Upward of a hundred 
preachers were present ; the increase in the member- 
ship within the bounds of the Conference was nearly 
three thousand. As was his custom he went to Perry 
Hall, where he had a delightful interview with his 
old friends and traveling companions of three thou- 
sand miles, Hollingsworth and Ilitt. After visiting 
points in Virginia and Delaware, he proceeded to the 
Conference at Philadelphia. From hence he passed 
through Xew Jersey and on to Vermont. When he 
came to the Green Mountains, he says : " We boldly 
engaged the Green Mountains of which we have 
heard awful accounts. I match it with rude Clinch 
or rough Alleghany. When we reached the Xar- 
rows, Daniel Hitt led the horses ; he preferred my 
leading them, so on we went ; but I was weak, and 
not attentive, perhaps, and the horse ran me upon a 
rock, up went the wheel, hanging balanced over a 
precipice fifty feet deep, with rocks, trees, and the 
river between us. ISTever in my life have I been in 
such apparent danger, but the Lord saves man and 
beast." Crossing after this the Xew Hampshire 
mountains, he entered the state of Massachusetts, and 
held Conference in Boston. The Xew England Con- 


ference had then ninety-two preachers on the list. 
After Conference he went to Lynn, where he 
preached on Sunday and Monday. His route from 
this place was through Wilbraham, Springfield, and 
across the mountains to Pittsfield, from thence to 
Schenectady, and along the banks of the Mohawk. 
Here lie was so lame as to be obliged to go upon 
crutches, but he nevertheless continued to preach. 
He went from hence to Cazenovia, Onondaga, Ska- 
neatelas Lake, Owasco Lake, Cayuga Lake, Seneca 
Lake, and Lyonstown, and thus from point to point 
until he reached Genesee and Tioga, and thence on 
through Pennsylvania until he reached Bethlehem, a 
place he had long desired to see. 

In describing this place, he says : " We found oar- 
selves at the grand tavern at the north end, the 
property of the ' Moravian Brethren.' The house is 
large, but a plain building, the entertainment good 
at a dollar a night for man and horse. On the second 
bench of the high grounds on the main street, which 
begins on the hill above, stand the church buildings. 
On the east and west are rooms appropriate to the 
institution, and certainly the west end has a grand 
appearance. On the same street below stands the 
4 Brethren's ' house, one hundred feet front, five stories 
high, very plain, and much German taste discover- 
able everywhere; add to this the majestic Lehigh, 
and you have the most striking features of this cele- 


brated place. I asked the young man who managed 
the tavern if they ever permitted any minister to 
preach among the ' Brethren.' He could not answer ; 
he was a servant and knew not how to answer. Xext 
day came the master of ceremonies, the cicerone of 
the establishment, who shows the wonders of the 
place. I asked him, but was informed that the min- 
ister must, perform himselbst. Daniel Hitt and two 
gentlemen from York, who had given money for the 
sights shown here for money, went to the Church- 
meeting. And what did they see and hear ? A man 
read in German they knew not what, and sung and 
played upon the four thousand dollar organ, but ser- 
mon or prayer they heard not. I doubt much if there 
is any prayer here, public or private, except the stated 
prayer of the minister on the Sabbath day. The 
' Brethren ' have a school for boys at Nazareth, and 
one for girls at Bethlehem, and they have a store and 
a tavern. The society have worldly wealth and 
worldly wisdom, and it is no wonder that men of the 
world, who would not have their children spoiled by 
religion, send them to so decent a place." 

From this place he directed his course to Lancas- 
ter, and without visiting Philadelphia he proceeded 
across the Alleghany Mountains, and through Ohio 
to the far-off Scioto, where the first Conference north- 
west of the Ohio was held in Chillicothe. Sixty-six 
preachers had assembled from the different and dis- 


tant parts of the far "West and South. Among them 
were many hardy pioneers, who had blazed their 
way through the wilderness, men of giant hearts and 
stalwart frames, who had braved a thousand dangers, 
and who were ready for any hardship and toil the 
Church might demand. The most of them have 
passed away, and the few that remain stand here and 
there like the solitary oak to tell of the glory of the 
primeval forest in which they stood. 

During the session of the Conference Asbury vis- 
ited the Deer Creek camp-ground, and preached a 
powerful discourse from the text, " "We then, as work- 
ers together with him, beseech you also that ye re- 
ceive not the grace of God in vain." 2 Cor. vi, 1. 
An immense concourse of people were collected from 
all parts of the country. Whole Methodist families 
came from the distance of forty and fifty miles, and 
some even further. They came in covered wagons, 
bringing their provisions with them. They did not, 
like many of the Methodists of the present day, take 
the cars in the morning and, whirled along at the 
rate of thirty miles an hour, reach the encampment 
in time to hear the eleven o'clock sermon, take din- 
ner at a boarding-tent, and return in the evening, 
wondering that they had received no spiritual bene- 
fit. Had they done so, camp-meetings would not 
have been attended with the power that character- 
ized them. But they closed up business at home, 


and made all their arrangements to spend a week 
at the feast of tabernacles, devoting themselves ex- 
clusively to the worship of God, and the result was 
invariably an increase in spirituality in the hearts of 
the members, and the conversion of their children. 
The great wonder is not now that so few are con- 
verted at our modern camp-meetings, but that any 
are converted. This, however, is to be attributed to 
the fact that there are some who act upon the prim- 
itive plan of going prepared, and determined to re- 
main during: the continuance of the meeting. 

C3 O 

After the business of the Conference was closed, 
during which they received an addition of thirteen 
preachers to the ranks of the itinerancy, and elected 
seven delegates to attend the General Conference, 
Asbury set out for what he called the frontier settle- 
ments on the Great Miami. A great alarm about 
this time was spread through the country on account 
of a threatened invasion of the Indians. A council, 
however, was held, at which Governor Worthington 
and General M' Arthur met the chiefs, and all hostile 
demonstrations were quieted. On his way he stopped 
at Lebanon, where he heard much about the Shakers. 
At Union Village, about three miles west of Leb- 
anon, the Shakers commenced their operations, and 
at this day it is, perhaps, the strongest hold of 
Shakerdom in the West. The society owns a large 
tract of fine land under a high state of cultivation, 


and have several family houses within a distance of 
three or four miles of each other. As there are dif- 
ferent grades it is necessary to keep them separate. 
On the Little Miami he preached at Philip Gatch's, 
and from thence proceeded to Cincinnati, where he 
stopped with Mr. Farris, in company with Solomon 
and Oliver Langdon. While here he thus expressed 
himself: "I am young again, and boast of being 
able to ride six thousand miles on horseback in ten 
months. My round will embrace the United States, 
the Territory, and Canada, but O ! childhood, youth, 
and old age, ye are all vanity." He alludes to the 
erection of the stone church where Wesley Chapel 
now stands, and thought it a very neat and comfort- 
able house of worship, though the crowd to hear him 
was so great that they could not find seats for their 

From Cincinnati he went to the camp-meeting at 
Mount Gerizim, Kentucky, where there was a large 
collection of people, and where he remained several 
days preaching. Quite a number were converted 
during the progress of the meeting. 

While on this tour he employed a part of his 
leisure time " in seeking appropriate portions of 
Scripture for the new hymns designed to enlarge 
the common hymn book." 

Pursuing his course through Tennessee, North Caro- 
lina, and Georgia, on Christmas day he reached 


Charleston, South Carolina, where the next Confer- 
ence was to be held. On Sabbath he preached at the 
old church and at Bethel, when he took occasion to 
notice the life and labors of Kendrick and Dough- 
erty. January 1, 1808, the Conference began. They 
sat six hours a day, and everything progressed with 
peace and harmony. The increase within the bounds 
of this Conference and the Western Conference was 
three thousand seven hundred. At the close he 
passed through North Carolina and Virginia to 
Alexandria, where a Conference was to be held, and 
thence on to Baltimore. 

A letter from the Rev. Asa Kent communicates 
the following incident, connected with the travels of 
the bishop at this time : 

" He was traveling through, I think, the country 
parts of North Carolina into Virginia, and put up 
with a brother who kept a house of entertainment 
for travelers. They had just risen from tea as a 
neighbor called at the door, and said a duel had just 
been fought but a few miles distant, and one of the 
parties had received a ball in his leg. 

"Soon a carriage drove up to the door, and some 
half-dozen spruce young men alighted and wished 
for supper as soon as convenient. Their business 
was at once understood, and their host brought them 
into the room and introduced them to the bishop, 
and they were seated till the table should be laid. 


He began a free conversation with them, and found 
they were young gentlemen of refined manners and 
education, and he wanted some method by which he 
could approach them so as to do them good. 

" Supper was announced, and they invited the 
bishop to eat with them ; but he excused himself, 
having just left the table ; still they desired it, and 
he went with them. He supposed that he had desig- 
nated the principal, second, and surgeon ; but they 
did not seem to have an idea that their business was 
known. He implored the blessing of God upon their 
souls, bodies, food, etc. He took a cup of tea, a bev- 
erage not often slighted by him, and excused himself 
from eating, and proposed telling them some of his 
reflections for the day. I am sorry that I cannot 
give the exact words of the bishop ; the matter is 
familiar, and I think the substance is found in what 
follows : 

"'In passing over these hills and through these 
valleys to-day, I have been led to reflect upon the 
mighty changes which have taken place since I first 
passed through this section of country years ago. 
Then the settlements were, " like angels' visits, few 
and far between." The pioneers depended much 
upon their rifles for support, until they were able to 
obtain supplies from the soil. Now I am really de- 
lighted with the changes which I behold. These 
hunters were a hardy class of men, and would give 



thrilling incidents of their exploits in those "days 
-which tried men's souls." But, noble-minded as 
they were, they were apt, by habit, to fall into a 
besetting sin they became reckless of life. The 
glorious Author of all life has permitted man to take 
the life of beasts when he needs their skins for use, 
or their flesh for sustenance. He may also kill wild 
beasts, or anything that would injure or destroy man, 
or the labor of his hands; but some have a rare thirst 
for blood, even when they have no idea of making 
any use of either hide, flesh, or tallow. Behold the 
sportsman as he goes forth for his game. He hears 
the chirping of a bird ensconced in the foliage of that 
tree. He stops, and with his keen eye discerns his 
victim, as she raises her grateful song to the top of 
her voice. He has no ear for such music, and holds 
a short consultation upon her life : " She is a fair 
mark, and I wish to test my skill, and the correct- 
ness of my rifle, by putting a ball through her heart." 
He takes aim, the singing ceases, and the harmless 
creature falls dead to the earth. He leaves her to 


rot where she fell, and passes on with much self- 
complacency. Alas for that man ! God has told 
him that not a sparrow falls to the ground without 
his notice. God was there, and saw the working of 
his mind when he determined upon blood, and the 
motive which induced him to present the deadly 
weapon. He has taken what he cannot restore, if it 


were to save his soul from death. "We may try to 
excuse his thoughtlessness, but that will not suffice ; 
there is a depravity of nature which must be removed. 

"'There has been a company out hunting in these 
woods to-day. With cautious steps they approached 
the place where they expected to find their game, 
and coming suddenly to an open space, they saw a 
noble buck standing still, and looking intensely at 
them. One fired, but instead of sending the ball 
through his heart it took effect in his leg, and with 
one bound into the bushes he made his escape. Who 
can tell what he may suffer from that wound, and it 
may be, go halting upon that leg all his life?' 

"The bishop said he had watched their agitation 
as he progressed ; their hurry increased, with down- 
cast eyes, until he came to that point. 'Then they 
rose simultaneously, bowed me a good evening, 
leaped into their carriage, and were soon out of 
sight.' " 

The next Conference was held at Philadelphia, 
and from thence he went to the New York Confer- 
ence at Amenia, and the New England Conference 
at New London, and from thence returned by way 
of New York and Philadelphia to Baltimore. While 
here he visited Perry Hall, which he now found a 
house of mourning. Mr. Gough, the proprietor, was 
dead. Of this gentleman Asbury writes : " Harry Dor- 
sey Gough professed more than thirty years ago to be 


convicted and sanctified ; that he did depart from 
God is well known, but it is equally certain that 
he was visibly restored ; as I was the means of his 
turning to God, so was I also of his return and 
restoration. Certain prejudices he had taken up 
against myself and others I removed. In his last 
hours, which were painfully afflictive, he was much 
given up to God. Mr. Gough had inherited a large 
estate in England, and, having the means, he in- 
dulged his taste for gardening and the expensive 
embellishment of his country seat, Perry Hall, which 
was always hospitably opened to visitors, particularly 
those who feared God. Although a man of plain 
understanding, Mr. Gongh was much respected and 
beloved. As a father, a husband, and a master, he 
was well worthy of imitation. His charities were as 
numerous as proper objects to a Christian were likely 
to make them, and the souls and bodies of the poor 
were administered to in the manner of a Christian 
who remembered the precepts and followed the ex- 
ample of his Divine Master." 

On July 5, 1806, in Dover, Delaware, Asbury's 
episcopal colleague, Richard Whatcoat, was called 
from labor to reward. He was a native of England, 
where he was converted at an early age and joined 
the Wesleyan society. After passing through various 
subordinate offices in the Church, he received license 
to preach, and was in due time regularly inducted into 


the ranks the of traveling ministry. Having fully 
counted the cost of toil and sacrifice connected with 
the work of an itinerant, he manifested a devotion to 
the same by the entire consecration of himself. He 
entered with zeal upon some of the hardest circuits of 
the Conference, and all his labors were characterized 
by the most remarkable fidelity. For fifteen years 
he traveled extensively, and labored successfully in 
England, Wales, and Ireland. Some of his circuits 
required eight weeks to complete the round, and he 
often preached three times a day. On one circuit 
which he traveled the people were too poor to render 
him any support, and rather than deprive of the Gos- 
pel that class for which it was specially designed, he 
sold his horse and traveled on foot. As a matter of 
course, wherever he went he was cordially received 
by the people, who flocked out in crowds to hear one 
who manifested so much interest in their welfare. 
He was as successful as he was popular, multitudes 
being converted through his instrumentality. Like 
Asbury, and the other noble baud of early pioneers to 
America, his heart was stirred at the descriptions 
given of this vast field of missionary enterprise, 
and in 1784 he volunteered his services and came 
over with Dr. Coke, to enter upon his much loved 
toil in this western world. From the time of his 
arrival on these shores, whether as traveling large 
districts, or with the laborious Asbury, making the 


tour of the continent, he always inspired and main- 
tained the confidence and esteem of all the preachers. 
He enjoyed to a remarkable degree the confidence of 
AVi-sU'v, and perhaps no man ever lived who filled up 


the measure of Wesley's idea of a Methodist more 
than the self-sacrificing Whatcoat. 

At the General Conference of 1800, as the reader 
will already have seen, he was raised bv the 

i/ t/ 

suffrages of his brethren to the distinguished office of 
a bishop, a position which he filled with honor to 
himself and usefulness to the Church for a period of 
six years. Though the materials are scarce from 
which to write a sketch of this great and good man, 
yet is there enough in the unblemished reputation of 
his character, and his unceasing devotion to all the 
interests of the Church, together with the success that 
crowned his labors, to make a volume. The merest 
sketch, however, must suffice, and such is all we pro- 
pose to give. One of his cotemporaries thus speaks 
of him : " We will not use many words to describe 
this almost inimitable man. Dead to envy, pride, or 
praise, he was raised above the world : sober without 
sadness, cheerful without levity, careful without cov- 
etousness, and decent without pride." Like most of 
the preachers of those days he led a life of poverty, 
and when he died was not possessed of property suffi- 
cient to pay his funeral expenses. Though not pos- 
sessed of much erudition, his attainments were respect- 


able, and he was a most devoted student of the word 
and works of God, a study of vastly greater conse- 
quence than many things supposed to be essential to 
the ministerial work. So deeply was he read in the 
Scriptures, and so faithfully had he treasured up their 
teaching?, that one of his friends called him a walking 
concordance. His labors as a bishop were only ex- 
celled by those of his senior in the episcopal office, 
and such is the change of circumstances that they 
will not likely be equaled again in this country. 
During the last years of his life he suffered much 
from disease, but in the midst of all he was regarded 
as a prodigy of patience. Excruciating as were his 

" He did not murmur or complain 

Beneath the chastening rod, 
But in the hour of grief and pain 

He hung upon his God." 

At Wesley Chapel, Dover, the place of his grave, 
Bishop Asbury delivered a funeral discourse from the 
text, " But thou hast fully known my doctrine, man- 
ner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, 
patience." In that discourse the bishop said "he 
had known Richard Whatcoat from his own age of 
fourteen to sixty-two years most intimately ; and had 
tried him most accurately, in the soundness of his 
faith, in the doctrine of universal depravity and the 


complete and general atonement ; the insufficiency 
of either moral or ceremonial righteousness for justi- 
fication, in opposition to faith alone in the merit and 
righteousness of Christ ; the doctrine of regeneration 
and sanctification. He spoke of his holy manner of 
life, manifest in all places, and before all people, as a 
Christian and as a minister; his long-suffering, a 
man of great affliction of body and mind, having 
been exercised with severe diseases and great labors ; 
but this did not abate his charity his love of God and 


man in all its effects, tempers, words, and actions ; 
bearing with resignation and patience great tempta- 
tions, bodily labors, and inexpressible pain. In life 
and death, placid and calm ; as he lived, so he died." 

Asbury had made his death the occasion of numer- 
ous discourses at the Conferences and elsewhere, 
and the above tribute to his memory is sufficient to 
show how greatly he loved his first colleague in the 

On the 6th of May, 1808, the General Conference 
opened in Baltimore. One hundred and twenty-nine 
members were present and took their seats. On the 
succeeding Sabbath the new church in Eutaw- 
street was dedicated, and the sermon was preached 
by Asbury from 2 Corinthians, iii, 12 : " Seeing then 
that we have such hope, we use great plainness of 
speech." The sermon was characterized by great 
directness and force. During this Conference, at the 


request of several preachers in England and the Gen- 
eral Conference, Mr. Bruff, an artist, took a likeness 
of Asbury, which afterward appeared in the English 
Methodist Magazine. It represented him with flow- 
ing white hair, falling in ringlets on his shoulders. 
At this Conference Asbury was left alone in the 
presidency, Coke not having returned from England, 
and AYhatcoat having died. 

After attending to the necessary preliminaries con- 
nected with Conference business, the case of Dr. 
Coke was taken up. During his last absence he had 
married a lady of wealth and respectability in En- 
gland, who proved in every respect a helper in the 
great work of extending the Gospel abroad. He had 
suggested as a condition of his return to the United 
States that the continent be divided into two separate 
dioceses, he to preside over one and Asbury over the 
other. He furthermore claimed the full right to give 
his judgment in the General and Annual Conferences 
in everything pertaining to the making of laws, 
stationing of preachers, and sending out mission- 
aries. What the General Conference felt disposed to 
grant Dr. Coke in relation to the exercise of the 
rights which he claimed in the Conferences we are 
not prepared definitely to state, but the proposal to 
divide the country into two separate and dis- 
tinct ecclesiastical dioceses they did not for a 
moment entertain. The Conference were somewhat 


dissatisfied with the course pursued by Dr. Coke in 
relation to the Bishop White affair. It seems from 
the history of the transaction that the proposal of 
the doctor, made to Bishop White for a union of 
the Protestant Episcopal and Methodist Episcopal 
Churches, was of a purely confidential character, and 
designed only to elicit an opinion as to the propriety 
and practicability of the measure. In addition to 
this it was of a personal character, and in no way in- 
volved the Methodist Church or the General Confer- 
ence. The whole affair was doubtless prompted by 
the purest motives, arising in all probability from the 
peculiar condition of the Methodist Church at the 
time. The O'Kelly schism had created a considerable 
alarm lest the Church should be torn asunder; and this 
state of things doubtless moved the doctor to look to the 
Protestant Episcopal Church, believing that a union 
with that body without a compromise of principles 
would prove of essential service to both. !N~o one 
should hold him accountable for an error of judgment 
under circumstances of this description. Such event- 
ually was the light in which the subject was viewed by 
the General Conference, and the following resolutions 
show that they entertained for him the highest regards: 
" 1. Resolved, That we do retain a grateful remem- 
brance of the services and labors of Dr. Coke among 
us, and that the thanks of this Conference are here- 
by acknowledged to him and to God for all his labors 


of love toward us from the time he first left his 
native country to serve us. 

" 2. Resolved, Tliat Dr. Coke's name shall be re- 
tained on our Minutes after the names of the bishops, 
in a Nota JSene : Dr. Coke, cut the request of the Brit- 
ish Conference, and by consent of our General Confer- 
ence, resides in Europe. He is not to exercise the 
office of superintendent or bishop among us in the 
United States until he be recalled by the General 
Conference or by all the Annual Conferences re- 

Furthermore, in their address to the British Con- 
ference, they hold the following language in regard 
to Dr. Coke: "Your request for the continuance of 
our beloved brother, Dr. Coke, among you, has been 
taken into the most serious and solemn deliberation 
in our Conference, and, in compliance with your re- 
quest, a vote has passed that he may continue with you 
until he may be called to us by all the Annual Con- 
ferences respectively or the General Conference. We 
are, however, not insensible of his value, or ungrate- 
ful for his past labors of love, and we do sincerely 
pray that the everlasting God may still be with him, 
and make him a blessing to hundreds and thousands 
of immortal souls." 

On the twelfth day of the Conference a resolution 
was passed that the episcopacy be strengthened by 
the election of an additional bishop. When the bal- 


lot was had it was ascertained that the lot had fallen 
r.pon William M'Kendree, the western pioneer. He 
was taken from the well-tried field of itinerant labor, 
and hence was practically acquainted with, and had 
a deep experience in the toils and hardships of an 
itinerant life. On the 17th of May he was ordained 
by Asbury, and regularly inducted into office. The 
subsequent life and labors of this bishop showed the 
wisdom of the choice of the General Conference. 

The next question brought before the Conference 
was the memorial of the New York Conference in re- 
lation to a delegated General Conference. In this 
memorial the Eastern, Western, and South Carolina 
Conferences concurred, the two former unanimously, 
the latter giving five dissentient votes. The subject 
was referred to a committee consisting of two from 


each of the Annual Conferences. The following are 
the names of the committee, and the Conferences to 
which they respectively belonged : JSTew York, Eze- 
kiel Cooper and John Wilson ; New England, Josh- 
ua Soule and George Pickering ; Western, William 
M'Kendree and William Burke ; South Carolina, Wil- 
liam Phcebus and Josiah Randall ; Virginia, Philip 
Bruce and Jesse Lee ; Baltimore, Stephen G. Roszel 
and Kelson Reed ; Philadelphia, John M'Claskey and 
Thomas Ware. After seven days' deliberation this 


committee presented their report, which was read 
and laid on the table for the space of eight days, 


when, on motion, it was taken up and discussed. 
The report was designed, if adopted, to constitute a 
section of the Discipline relative to the constitution 
of the General Conference and its powers and pre- 
rogatives. The original paper was finally adopted, 
with a few slight modifications. As this section has 
been changed in some parts from time to time, we 
have thought it proper to give it to our readers as it 
originally stood in the Discipline : 

" The General Conference shall not change or alter 
any part of our rules of government so as to do away 
episcopacy, or destroy the plan of our itinerant gen- 
eral superintendency. ... It shall have full power to 
make rules and regulations for our Church under the 
following restrictions : 

" 1. The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, 
or change our articles of religion, nor establish any 
new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our 
present existing and established standards of doctrine. 

" 2. They shall not allow of more than one repre- 
sentative for every five members of the Annual Con- 
ferences, nor allow of a less number than one for 
every seven. 

" 3. They shall not revoke or change the General 
Hules of the United Societies. 

" 4. They shall not do away the privileges of our 
ministers or preachers of trial by a committee, and of 
an appeal : neither shall they do away the privileges 


of our members of trial before the society, or by a 
committee, and of an appeal. 

" 5. They shall not appropriate the produce of the 
Book Concern or of the Charter Fund to any purpose 
other than for the benefit of the traveling, super- 
numerary, superannuated, and worn-out preachers, 
their wives, widows, and children. 

" 6. Provided, nevertheless, that upon the joint 
recommendation of all the Annual Conferences, then 
a majority of two-thirds of the General Conference 
succeeding shall suffice to alter any of the above 

The subject of slavery was introduced by Stephen 
G. Roszel, who proposed an amendment, which was 
lost John M'Claskey moved that the whole section 
on the subject be stricken from the Discipline, which 
was also lost. Mr. Roszel subsequently offered the 
following, seconded by Thomas Ware, which was 
carried, namely : " That the first two paragraphs of 
the section on slavery be retained in the Discipline, 
and that the General Conference authorize each 
Annual Conference to form their own regulations 


relative to buying and selling slaves." 

On motion of Bishop Asbury, which was carried, 
one thousand copies of the Discipline, with the 
section and rule on slavery omitted, for the use of 
the South Carolina Conference, was ordered to be 


At the close of the Conference Asbury felt greatly 
relieved that his " beloved M'Kendree J: had become 
associated with him in bearing the labors and respon- 
sibilities of the episcopacy. After a short respite he 
started out with Henry Boehm. a German minister, 
on a tour through Pennsylvania, preaching to Eng- 
lish and German congregations in numerous places. 

Of this tour Mr. Boehm, the only surviving travel- 
ing companion of Asbury, and who still retains a 
vivid recollection of him, furnishes the following 
reminiscences : 

" For several years Bishop Asbury gave me intima- 
tions of his intention to take me with him, one motive 
of which was to minister to the Germans w T hen an 
opportunity offered in his tours. At the General 
Conference at Baltimore, in 1808, he came to the con- 
clusion that I should travel with him. Accordingly 
I proceeded to Pipe Creek, where I met the bishop 
at the house of Brother M'Cannon. Here we saw the 
remains of the house of worship erected in the days 
of Mr. Strawbridge, of whose person I have some 
faint recollection when on a visit at my father's, near 
seventy years ago. We proceeded through Frederick- 
town, Hagerstown, and Fort Cumberland, preaching 
frequently by the way ; then toiled across the Alle- 
ghany Mountain, the road being very rough. By 
the time we descended on the west side of the moun- 
tain the indefatigable bishop was attacked with in- 


flammatory rheumatism, which deprived him of the 
use of his feet ; and his companion had to follow the 
appointments on to Pittsburgh. The last appointment 
was on Sabbath, and had to be noticed in some of 
the newspapers ; the bishop in the morning, and his 
companion in the afternoon in German : this was a 
heavy cross for a young man, but in the name of the 
Lord I undertook the work, and succeeded both in the 
morning and afternoon, as also at five o'clock, in 
Brother Wrensball's yard. The Methodist society 
was small, and had no house of worship in Pittsburgh. 
" I now hastened back to the forks of Youghiogany 
and Monongahela, and found Father Asbury still very 
lame. During my absence he had provided himself 
with a pair of crutches, and was actually shaping his 
course for a start. It was truly, from all human 

/ ' 

appearance, a hopeless case, but it must be under- 
taken. We started for Washington ; every step of 
the horse was painful ; when we arrived at said town 
I lifted him off his horse, and carried him into the 
house, to the astonishment of the kind family when, 
they found that he had traveled on horseback through 
a shower of rain. We carried the crutches with us, 
though for the time being they were of no use. ISText 
morning we were on the road, and arrived in safety 
at Brother Beck's, a family of blessed memory. 
Here we rested a little while, and then proceeded to 
Wheeling, tarried with Colonel Zane, one of the early 


settlers on the banks of the Ohio. I recollect, among 
many remarks, one very remarkable incident, related 
to us by the old people. Their house was assaulted 
by a company of Indians ; the wife molded bullets, 
while the husband used them with such effect that 
they happily succeeded in defending themselves 
against a superior force. 

" WQ crossed the Ohio, and then crossed the Mus- 
kingum at Zanesville. In the vicinity of New Lan- 
caster we fell in with brothers Sale and James Quinn, 
now among the happy dead ; the former was presid- 
ing elder of the district, then extending from the Big 
Miami to the Muskingum. Brother Sale accompa- 
nied us to Chillicothe and to Xenia, where his family 
resided. There lived here a worthy family who had 
removed from Virginia, and laid a lasting foundation 
for Methodism, namely, Pelham, Bonner, and others. 

" We proceeded to Lebanon, an infant village 
down the Little Miami, to the venerable Philip 
Gatch's, where we found a camp-meeting. Here I 
had an opportunity to preach to the Germans, as 
also in Cincinnati, which was probably the first ser- 
mon preached in German by a Methodist minister 
in that town, containing then about two thousand 
inhabitants. Notwithstanding the affliction of Bish- 
op Asbury, he preached almost daily when opportu- 
nity served, and by the time we arrived at Cincinnati 
he was much better of his lameness. In this town, 



likewise, there- was a i'oimdation of 0od materials in 


the Methodist society, line, steady, pious members. 

" Leaving Cincinnati, we traveled in company with 
Brother and Sister Lakin to Lawronceburgh, Indiana 
Territory, where we tarried with Brother Elijah 
Sparks. This was quite an infant village. We 
passed down opposite Kentucky River, where we 
crossed the Ohio in a leaky scow, and were in 
considerable danger. We now took our course 
through Kentucky to Tennessee, to Brother James 
G win's. Here the "Western Conference had its ses- 
sion, embracing all west of the Alleghany Mountains, 
except what the Baltimore Conference included ; it 
likewise took in East Tennessee, with Southwest Vir- 
ginia. "What changes since that period ! To my 
great surprise Father Asbury bore up under all the 
toil and labor of traveling and preaching, together 
with the care of all the Churches, and notwithstand- 
ing, he was a very agreeable companion on the 

Crossing over to Kentucky they met M'Kendree, 
and journeyed on to ^Nashville, and thence to the 
seat of the Conference. The Conference was in 
Williamson county, held in the encampment, where 
the preachers ate and slept in tents. It was a peace- 
ful and prosperous time ; eighty preachers were sta- 
tioned. At this Conference a regulation was adopted 
respecting slavery, to the effect that "no member of 


the society, or preacher, should sell or buy a slave 
unjustly, inhumanly, or covetously." 

From this Conference they started, with fifty trav- 
elers in company, across the wilderness. The toils 
of the journey preyed heavily on Asbury's constitu- 
tion, but still he toiled on. Arriving at Buncombe, 
2s"orth Carolina, they stopped for rest, and M'Ken- 
dree and Boehm preached alternately. Thence they 
journeyed to South Carolina, stopping at Camden, 
where they were greatly refreshed by intelligence 
from Baltimore and elsewhere of glorious revivals of 
religion. The next point was a camp-meeting in 
Georgia, where Conference was held. There was an 
immense concourse of people, many of whom had 
come a great distance. The number of traveling and 
local preachers present was about three hundred, and 
preaching, exhortation, and prayer were kept up 
without intermission. During this tour Asbury and 
M'Kendree rode together in a carriage. In the Jour- 
nal it is thus described : " We are riding in a poor 
thirty-dollar chaise, in partnership, two bishops of us ; 
but it must be confessed it tallies well with the weight 
of our purses. What bishops ! Well, but we have 
great times; each Western, Southern, and the Yir- 
nia Conference will have a thousand souls truly con- 
verted to God, and is not this an equivalent for a 
light purse, and are we not well paid for starving 
and toil ? Yes, glory to God !" 


Asbury went to Rembert's Chapel to fill an ap- 
pointment which had been made for Bishop M'Ken- 
dree. Mr. Rembert, after whom this chapel was 
named, was a resident of South Carolina, and his 
house was a favorite resort of the bishop. In speak- 
ing of this Christian gentleman, whose hospitalities he 
frequently enjoyed, he says: "He is kind and good, 
rich and liberal, and has done more for the poor 
Methodists than any man in South Carolina. The 
Lord grant that he, with his whole household, may 
find mercy in that day." 

The next Conference they attended was the Virginia, 
which was held in February, 1809. Among the eighty- 
four preachers present there were only three who were 
married. While at this Conference Asbury complained 
of the course taken by certain people to prejudice 
slaveholders against Methodist principles, and thus 
keep them from having access to the slaves. In this 
connection he asks the following question : " Would 
not an amelioration in the condition and treatment of 
slaves have produced more practical good to the poor 
Africans than any attempt at their emancipation f 
The state of society unhappily does not admit of this ; 
besides, the blacks are deprived of the means of in- 
struction, and who will take the pains to lead them 
in the way of salvation, and watch over them that 
they may not stray, but the Methodists ?" 

In consequence of the position taken by the Gen- 


eral Conference previously on the subject of slavery, 
some of the legislative assemblies of the South had 
passed laws prohibiting ministers from instructing 
the slaves except upon certain conditions, and author- 
izing the peace officers to break up any meetings 
that might be held in private for their benefit. In 
regard to the effect of the address of the General 
Conference upon the citizens of South Carolina, As- 
bury says : " Nothing could so effectually alarm and 
arm the citizens of South Carolina against the Meth- 
odists. The rich among the people never thought us 
worthy to preach to them ; they did indeed give 
their slaves liberty to hear and join our Church, but 
now it appears the poor Africans will no longer have 
this indulgence." Asbury frequently lamented that 
his way was hedged up, and that he had not the 
access to the slaves which he so much desired. At 
the Conference held in Tennessee in 1808, the year 
immediately preceding the present time, we learn 
from his Journal that a rule w r as adopted on the 
subject of slavery which prohibited any member of 
the Church, or preacher, from selling or buying a 
slave " unjustly, inhumanly, or covetously." 

The bishops continued on their journey until they 
reached Baltimore, the old starting point, and from 
thence passed through Pennsylvania and New Jer- 
sey on to NQW York. Here Conference was held. 
One hundred and fifteen preachers were stationed. 


The ordination of ciders took place at John-street, 
and the occasion was one of great interest to the 
Church in the city. From hence Asbury sought the 
rest and quiet of Sherwood vale, where he spent the 
Sabbath and preached. From this he started with 
Boehm for his Eastern tour. Passing through Xew 
Haven, Xew London, ISTewport, Bristol, and Warren, 
he journeyed on to Boston, w r here he preached in the 
old chapel on Sabbath morning, and in the afternoon 
in the new. Such was his feebleness here that he was 
obliged to preach in a sitting posture. From this 
place he went to Xew Gloucester, where Conference 
was held. On Sabbath he preached to an immense 
congregation consisting of thousands. In Danville, 
Vermont, he was invited to preach to the court, 
which was then in session, but his health would not 
allow the undertaking ; a large congregation, how- 
ever, collected in the Church, and he preached, sitting 
in one of the pews near the pulpit. From hence he 
proceeded on his way through Marshfield, Mid- 
dlesex, Waterbury, and Richmond to Lake Cham- 
plain, and from thence onward to Fort Edward, 
where he preached in Dr. Lawrence's store to five 
hundred attentive hearers. Afterward he preached 
in M'Cready's barn, on Saratoga Lake, and from 
thence he went to General Clark's, where he preached 
in a bar-room. His next stopping place was 
Ballston Springs, which he compares to those of 


Bath, in England : " The water," he says, " has a taste 
of beer, lemon juice, and salt of tartar." From Balls- 
ton he went to Kingsbury, where he took to the 
woods for a shade and preached to a thousand people. 
While here he remarks : " I wish to fast as when 
young, and when fast- day comes the body has a 
journey of forty miles to make, and do its part in 
preaching ; but Christ is strength in my weakness." 
Thus he continued on his journey until he reached 
Onondaga, where he preached in the court-house on 
Saturday and Sunday to large congregations. De- 
scribing his journey from this place in the midst of a 
storm, he says, " We had an awful time in the woods 
among rocks, and trees living and dead barring 
our way." 

We cannot trace the bishop in his wanderings 
from place to place. Suffice it to say he passed 
on from New York through Pennsylvania, crossed 
the Alleghany Mountains, stopping at Wheeling, 
where Colonel Zane had given the Methodists a lot 
for a house. He preached here in the court-house 
"with light and power, having an open time." 
Boehm preached in St. Clairsville, and also at Zanes- 
ville, named after the colonel. From thence they 
went to Lancaster, where he spoke to the assembled 
people in the court-house, and then on to Chillicothe, 
Hamilton, Milford, Columbia, and "fair Cincinnati," 
as the bishop called it. He found the " old stone ' 


enlarged and the society increased. At the camp- 
meeting lu-ld near Cincinnati the bishop preaclied, as 
also Blackman, M'Kendree, and Burke. Conference 
was held this year (1809) at Cincinnati. 

From this Conference he and M'Kendree started 
out for the South, through Kentucky, Tennessee, 
North and South Carolina, holding meetings and 
Conferences on the route, and returning by Virginia 
to Baltimore, where he says : " If we want plenty of 
good living and new suits of clothes let us come to 
Baltimore." They evidently did want them, and the 
Baltimore Methodists showed their religion and good 
sense in providing for these bachelor bishops. After 
Conference Asbury went to Perry Hall, and started 
from thence on his customary route eastward, in com- 
pany with Bishop M'Kendree, holding Conference in 
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at which eighty-four preach- 
ers were stationed, and two missionaries sent out, one 
to Michigan, and the other to Canada. From Con- 
ference they started out and crossed the " perpetual 
hills " into New Hampshire, where they held Confer- 
ence at Chester in the Presbyterian Church. A 
camp-meeting was in progress during the session of 
the Conference, and there was preaching three times 
a da} 7 by the members. 

At Boston Asbury preached in the old chapel on 
Sabbath morning, and at the new in the evening. On 
Monday he wrote letters to Baltimore, Georgetown, 


Alexandria, Norfolk, and Charleston, urging the 
Churches in these places to take up collections in be- 
half of the new chapel in Boston, which was greatly 
embarrassed with debt. Passing through Warren, 
Bristol, and other places, they came to New London, 
where for the first time he saw Lee's History of Meth- 
odism, concerning which he writes : " It is better than 
I expected. He has not always presented me under 
the most favorable aspect, but we are all liable to 
mistakes. I correct him in one fact. My compelled 
seclusion at the beginning of the war. in the state of 
Delaware, was in no wise a season of inactivity. On 
the contrary, except about two months of retirement 
from the direst necessity, it was the most active, the 
most useful, and most afflictive part of my life. If I 
spent a few dumb Sabbaths ; if I did not for a short 
time steal after dark, or through the gloom of the 
woods, as I was accustomed, from house to house to 
to enforce that truth I, an only child, had crossed 
the ocean to proclaim, I shall not be blamed I hope ; 
especially when it is known that my patron, the good 
and respectable Thomas White, who promised me 
security and secrecy, was himself taken into custody 
by the light horse patrol ; and if such things happened 
to him what might I, a fugitive and an Englishman, 
expect? In these very years we added eighteen 
hundred members to society, and laid a broad and 
deep foundation for the wonderful success Methodism 


has met with in that quarter. The children and chil- 
drens' children of those who witnessed ray labors and 
sufferings in that day of peril, now rise up by hun- 
dreds to bless me. Where are the witnesses them- 
selves ? Alas ! there remain not five perhaps whom 
I could summon to attest the truth of this statement." 
From Connecticut they returned to Xew York, 
where, after spending the Sabbath, July 8, 1810, 
they crossed the Hudson River and the Catskills, and 
directed their course to the Sharon camp-meeting. 
While passing through this route he remarked that 
he did not see how the people in the mountains could 
be kept from starvation, were it not for the saw-mills 
and lumber with which they abound. From hence 
they went on through Cazenovia, and attended the 
session of the Genesee Conference, which was held in 
connection with a camp-meeting. The formation of 
this Conference Asbury regarded as one of the most 
judicious acts of the episcopacy. After Conference 
they proceeded to Geneva, passing round Seneca 
Lake, where they went through what Asbury calls 
" an awful wilderness." They were now in Pennsyl- 
vania, on the route to Northumberland, and as they 
pursued their course Boehm, who was in company, 
was thrown from the sulky, but without injury. 
While in the wilderness Asbury describes the scene : 
" Thunder and rain, and awful mountains, deep roads 
and swollen streams." Crossing the Susquehanna they 


stopped at Middletown, where they dined with a doc- 
tor by the name of Homer, who had translated the 
Discipline into the German language for the benefit 
of his countrymen. On Sunday Asbury preached 
in Lancaster, morning and evening. From this place 
they went to Carlisle, where he drew a plan for a new 
chapel, seventy by forty-five feet, to cost two thou- 
sand dollars. The road between Indian Creek and 
Connelsville he describes as very bad, and thus writes 
about it : "I enter my protest, as I have yearly for 
forty years, against this road." His next appoint- 
ment was a camp-meeting near Brownsville, where 
three thousand people heard him preach. From 
hence he went to Barnesville, Ohio, and from thence 
to "Wills' Creek and Meig's Creek, and on to Marietta, 
where he preached to a small congregation. His 
course from this place was across the Ohio, and up 
the Little Kanawha to a camp-meeting, from whence 
he returned across the country to Chillicothe. 

While at Chillicothe he was requested by Governor 
Worthington to furnish an inscription for the tomb- 
stone of his sister, Mary Tiffin, and he gave the fol- 
lowing : " Mary hath chosen that good part which 
shall not be taken away from her." Luke x, 42. 
After a short rest he journeyed across the country to 
the Little Miami, and on to Cincinnati, where Boehm 
preached in German on Friday evening. On Sab- 
bath Asbury preached to large and attentive con- 


gregations. On the morning of his departure for 
Kentucky there was a dense fog. lie thus describes 
it: "The great river was covered with a mist until 
nine o'clock, when the airy curtain rose slowly from 
the waters, gliding along in expanded and silent 
majesty." Passing through Kentucky, where he 
held a Conference, he crossed the mountains into 
North Carolina, thence to South Carolina, where, at 
Columbia, they found a kind friend in the person of 
Mr. Taylor, a member of the United States Senate, 
who opened his house for the session of the Confer- 
ence. On Sabbath he and M'Kendree preached. 
About eighty preachers were present. 

On the succeeding Sabbath he preached at Lum- 
berton. His fatigues and exposures had wrought 
heavily upon him, and he was quite unwell. After 
preaching he made the following note : "I preached 
here possibly for the last time. I spoke in great 
weakness of body, and having offered my service and 
sacrifice, I must change my course and go to Wil- 
mington. I am happy, my heart is pure, and my 
eye is single ; but I am sick and weak, and in heavi- 
ness by reason of suffering and labor. Sometimes I 
am ready to cry out, Lord, take me home to rest. 
Courage, my soul !" Accordingly he directed his 
course to Wilmington, and having fulfilled his mis- 
sion in that place, went to Raleigh, where Conference 
was held. On the Sabbath during Conference he 


preached in the State House to two thousand people. 
The next Sabbath we find him at Richmond, Vir- 
ginia. From thence he returned to Maryland, where, 
after resting awhile at Perry Hall, he went to Phila- 
delphia. At the session of the Conference he had 
visits from Drs. Rush and Physick, whose kindness 
and services he acknowledged with gratitude. 

At the Conference held in New York, May, 1811, 
a great fire occurred, consuming about one hundred 
houses. Referring to New York at this time, Asbury 
says : " The Society has increased, our chapels are 
neat, and their debt is not heavy ; they wish to re- 
build John-street Church, and to build a small house 
at the Two-Mile Stone." From New York he went to 
Sherwood Yale and to Governor Cortlandt's, at both 
of which places he preached. He then traveled 
into Vermont, and, visiting several places, crossed 
Lake Champlain to Sable River, where he preached 
to a large congregation. From thence he went to 
Plattsburgh, and on to the Indian Village, and across 
the St. Lawrence. In crossing the line separating 
the United States from Canada, he writes : " My 
strong affection for the people of the United States 
came with strange power upon me while I was cross- 
ing the line." After visiting several places, and 
preaching, he returned to the States, making the fol- 
lowing remarks : " Well, I have been in Canada, and 
find it like all stations in the extremities ; there are 


difficulties to be overcome, and prospects to cheer us. 
Some of our laborers have not been as faithful and 
diligent as we could wish." On his return he attend- 


ed, with M'Kendree, the Genesee Conference, and 
from thence proceeded to the New York Conference. 
At this Conference he says : " Some of the wise men 
of New York Conference have discovered that it will 
be far better to elect presiding elders in Conference, 
and give them the power of stationing the preachers. 
When the election for General Conference came on, 
there was some disposition manifested to reject the 
Canadians and the presiding elders. If the preachers 
take any specific power, right, or privilege from the 
bishops, which the General Conference may have 
given them, it is clear that they dissolve the whole 

From Conference he traveled through Pennsylva- 
nia, taking the ordinary route, and directed his course 
to Mad River, in the interior of Ohio. At Dayton he 
preached in the court-house to a thousand people. 
His next route was through Franklin and Lebanon, 
where he drew a plan for a new brick church forty 
by sixty, and thence to Cincinnati, where Conference 
was held, and where he and M'Kendree preached in 
the chapel and market-house. 

His next trip was through Kentucky and on to 
Georgia, where he held Conference at Cainden. Of 
this Conference he says : " Scarcely have I seen so 


much harmony and love. There are eighty-five 
preachers, and the increase is three thousand three 
hundred and eight." The next point was Charleston, 
where he spent the first day of the year 1812 "in 
meditation, writing, and prayer." After preaching 
at Cumberland and Bethel Chapels he started for 
various points in ISTorth Carolina, and then on to 
Petersburg]!, Virginia, where Conference was held. 
From hence he went to Maryland and held Confer- 
ence ; then another in Philadelphia, from which place 
he directed his course to New York, where the Gen- 
eral Conference was to be held. 

The above is but the merest outline of the bishop's 
labors in his itinerant journeyings. Anything like a 
detail would swell his biography into almost as many 
volumes as he performed continental tours. A vast 
amount of otherwise interesting matter must neces- 
sarily be left untouched on account of its sameness ; 
our object has been to present as far as possible 
that which is the most interesting in a connected 
whole, and yet sufficiently full to give the reader an 
idea of the great labor, and self-sacrificing devotion 
of this extraordinary man. Sweeping over a circuit 
of thousands of miles, and attending conferences, 
camp, quarterly, and other meetings, almost without 
number, it would take entirely too much space to 
give a detailed account of his journeyings and labors. 



General Conference in New York, May, 1812 Adoption of Rules Let- 
ter from Dr. Coke Bishop M'Kendrce's Address Genesee Confer- 
ence recognized Asbury's Address to the Conference M'Kendree's 
Eeply Asbury's Desire to return to England Collection of Materials 
for a History of the Church Dr. Bangs's History Division of the 
Western Conference Missionary Society Subject of Slavery Last 
General Conference he attended Sherwood Vale Governor Tan 
Cortlandt Illness Conference at Albany Conference at Lynn 
War declared Secession Genesee Conference West Beauti- 
ful Country of the Wyoming Remarks on the War Judge Van 
Meter White Brown's Ohio Conference Cincinnati Frankfort. 
Kentucky Louisville Labors in Nashville Charleston General 
Lee Carried into Church Invitation from British Conference Bal- 
timore Conference Philadelphia New York Conference M'Ken- 
dree Valedictory Address to Writes his last Will Remarks 
about New England New York Conference Tomb of Henry Willis 
The poor Africans Dr. Hinde Tennessee Conference Valedic- 
tory Address to Presiding Elders Funeral Sermon on the Death 
of Otterbein Sick at Perry Hall John Wesley Bond Ohio Con- 
ference Gloomy Tidings of War Conference Illness Baltimore 

Last Visit to Perry Hall New York Conference Preached the 
Funeral Sermon of Dr. Coke Tribute Massachusetts Last Ser- 
mon in Boston New York Philadelphia Crosses the Mountains 

David Young Chillicothe Eleanor Worthington Reflections on 
the Overthrow of Buonaparte Ohio Conference Bishop M'Kendree 

Conference at Lexington, Kentucky Funeral Sermon. 

THE General Conference of 1808 having provided 
for a delegated General Conference, the Annual Con- 
ferences accordingly elected their representatives, 
who convened in New York on the 1st of May, 
1812. After the appointment of several committees, 
the adoption of rules for their government, and the 
settling of several preliminaries, among which was 


one allowing all traveling preachers in full connection 
who might be present a seat as visitors. Bishop As- 
bury read to the Conference a letter received from 
Dr. Coke. This letter was full of fraternal affection, 
and expressed continued attachment to the cause of 
American Methodism. It, however, communicated 
the intention and design of the doctor to go out as a 
missionary to India. After the reading of this ad- 
dress, which we regret very much has been lost, as it 
was the last letter of Dr. Coke to his American 
brethren, Bishop M'Kendree presented the follow- 
ing address : 

"To the General Conference of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, now assembled in the city of New York. 

"DEAR BRETHREN, My relation to you and the 
connection in general seems, in my opinion, to make 
it necessary that I should address you in some way, 
by which you may get possession of some informa- 
tion perhaps not otherwise to be obtained by many 
of you. 

" It is now four years since, by your appointment, 
it became my duty jointly to superintend our exten- 
sive and very important charge. With anxious 
solicitude and good wishes I have looked forward to 
this General Conference. The appointed time is 
come, and the Lord has graciously permitted us to 
meet according to appointment, for which I hope 



we are prepared jointly to praise and adore his 

" Upon examination, you will find the work of the 
Lord i- prospering in our hands. Our important 
charge has greatly increased since the last Genera! 
Conference ; we have had an increase of nearly forty 
thousand members. At present we have about one 
hundred and ninety thousand members, upward of 
two thousand local, and about seven hundred travel- 
ing preachers in our connection, and these widely 
scattered over seventeen states, besides the Canadas 
and several of the territorial settlements. 

"Thus situated, it must be expected, in the present 
state of things, that the counsel and direction of your 
united wisdom will be necessary to preserve the har- 
mony and peace of the body, as well as co-operation 
of the traveling and local ministry, in carrying on the 
blessed work of reformation which the Lord has been 
pleased to effect through our instrumentality. To 
deserve the confidence of the local ministry and 
membership, as well as to retain confidence in our- 
selves and in each other, is undoubtedly our duty ; 
and if we consider that those who are to confide in 
us are a collection from all classes and descriptions, 
from all countries of which the nation is composed, 
promiscuously scattered over this vast continent, 
men who were originally of different educations, 
manners, habits, and opinions, we shall see the 


difficulty as well as the importance of this part of our 

" In order to enjoy the comforts of peace and union 
among us, we must ' love one another ;' but this can- 
not abide where confidence does not exist ; and 
purity of intention, manifested by proper actions, is 
the very foundation and support of confidence ; thus 
4 united, we stand;' each member is a support. to the 
body, and the body supports each member ; but if 
confidence fails, love will grow cold, peace will be 
broken, and i divided, we fall.' It therefore becomes 
this body, which, by its example, is to move the 
passions and direct the course of thousands of minis- 
ters, and tens of thousands of members, to pay strict 
attention to the simplicity of Gospel manners, and to 
do everything as in the immediate presence of God. 
If we consider the nature of our business, and the in- 
fluence of civil governments, and political measures, 
it will hardly be expected that every individual in so 
large a body as you form will continually be suffi- 
ciently and strictly evangelical in all cases ; it is 
therefore hoped in cases of failure, that the wisdom 
and firmness of your united prudence as a body will 
counteract evil effects by a well-ordered and prudent 
disapprobation and better example. Church and 
state should never be assimilated. 

" Connected as I am with you and the connection 
in general, I feel it a part of my duty to submit to 

436 LIKK AM) TI.MKS <>K 

your consideration the appointment of the Genesee 
Conference ; and perhaps it may be for the general 
good if in your wisdom you should think proper to 
take into consideration a division of the work in the 
western country, and a proper arrangement of the 
work in general ; and the magnitude and extent of 
the work which the Lord has graciously pleased to 
prosper in our hands, may make it proper for you to 
inquire if the work is sufficiently within the oversight 
of the superiutendency, and to make such arrange- 
ments and provision as your wisdom may approve. 
I would also suggest the necessity of keeping in view 
not only the traveling, but the relation and situation 
of our local brethren, and to pursue that plan which 
may render the whole the most useful ; and it may 
also be proper to bring into view any unfinished 
business (if any) which we had under consideration at 
our last General Conference. Hitherto, as a body, 
we have been preserved by our well-digested system 
of rules, which are as sinews to the body, and form 
the bonds of our union. But it is evident, both from 
Scripture and experience, that men, even good men, 
may depart from first principles and the best of rules ; 
it may therefore be proper for you to pay some at- 
tention to the administration, to know the state both 
of the traveling and local ministry, as it relates to 
doctrine, discipline, and practice. 

" Before I conclude, permit me, my dear brethren, 


to express a few thoughts concerning the view I have 
of the relation in which I stand connected with this 
body. It is only by virtue of a delegated power from 
the General Conference that I hold the reins of gov- 
ernment, I consider myself bound by virtue of the 
same authority to exercise discipline in perfect con- 
formity to the rules of the Church, to the best of my 
ability and judgment. I consider myself justly ac- 
countable, not for the system of government, but for 
my administration, and ought, therefore, to be ready 
to answer in General Conference for past conduct, 
and be willing to receive information and advice, to 
perfect future operations, and I wish my brethren to 
feel themselves perfectly easy and at liberty. 

" I shall take the liberty here to present my grate- 
ful acknowledgments for the high degree of confi- 
dence which my beloved brethren have placed in me, 
and especially for the able counsel and seasonable 
support afforded by many, which has, I believe, with 
the Divine aid, preserved and supported me. Dear 
brethren, such are the effects of our high responsibil- 
ity, connected with a consciousness of the insuffi- 
ciency of my talents for so great a work, that I move 
with trembling. Your eyes and the eyes of the Lord 
are upon me for good. We shall rejoice together to 
Bee the armies of Israel wisely conducted in all their 
ranks, carrying the triumphs of the Redeemer's 
kingdom to the ends of the earth ; and the Lord will 


rejoice to make his ministers a flame of fire. In yon 
I have confidence, and on yon I depend for aid, and 
above all, I trust in Divine aid. Influenced by tin-- 
considerations, and with my situation in full view, I 
cannot entertain a thought of bearing such awful ac- 
countability longer than I am persuaded my services 
are useful to the Church of God, and feel a confi- 
dence of being aided by your counsel and support, 
which is with you to give in any way or form you 
judge proper. And while I join with you, my dear 
brethren, in pure Gospel simplicity, to commit and 
recommend ourselves and our several charges to the 
special care of the great Head of the Church, I re- 
main, with sentiments of love and confidence, your 
servant in the Gospel of Christ." 

Several parts of this address were referred to select 
committees, with instructions to report upon them at 
a subsequent day. The Genesee Conference, which 
had been constituted during the interim of the Gen- 
eral Conference, was recognized as properly and 
legally organized. 

At the opening of the morning session, on the 8th 
of May, Bishop Asbnry rose and addressed the Con- 
ference through Bishop M'Kendree. In his address 
he gave a succinct and interesting narrative of the 
rise, progress, and present state of Methodism in 
America, and intimated, as with prophetic ken, its 


glorious future. His address was truly inspiring, and 
was received with every demonstration of gratifica- 
tion by the ninety representatives present. When he 
concluded Bishop M'Kendree rose and replied, thank- 
ing him, in behalf of the delegates assembled, and of 
the Church in general, for his address, and for the 
fatherly care with which he had watched over the 
interests of Methodism from the beginning. 

The various matters pertaining to the interests of 
the Church embraced in the address of Asbury were 
referred to select committees. The bishop expressed 
a desire to visit his native land, and gaze once more 
upon the scenes of his youth and early labors ; but as 
the Conference had decided not to increase the num- 
ber of bishops, the committee on the episcopacy pre- 
sented the following : " It is our sincere desire and 
request that Bishop Asbury would relinquish his 
thoughts of visiting Europe, and confine his labors, to 
the American connection so long as God may preserve 
his life." The Conference unanimously concurred in 
the above resolution, and Asbury, regarding the 
voice of the Church as indicative of an order of 
Providence, cheerfully acquiesced in its decision. 

The General Conference of 1808 having been im- 
pressed with the importance of the collection of reli- 
able material for the purpose of furnishing a com- 
plete history of the Church, suggested the propriety 
of each Annual Conference attending to this matter, 


by collecting such historic lads ami incidents as 
might come within their reach. Accordingly several 
historical letters were presented and referred to a 
committee consisting of Nathan Bangs, Thomas L. 
Douglass, and Learner Blackmail. This was an im- 
portant movement, and we doubt not that this action 
led the chairman of that committee to devote more 
specific attention to the subject than he would other- 
wise have clone, and we rejoice, in common with the 
great Methodist family, that it resulted in a clear, 
concise, and comprehensive history of the Church 
from his pen. We think it proper to remark in this 
connection, that the History of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, by Dr. Bangs, is worthy of the name, 
and justly deserves the wide and well-earned repu- 
tation which it has obtained both in this country and 
in Europe. If the old definition of history has not 
become obsolete, which makes it to consist in the 
simple unadorned narration of facts and events, then 
does this work come up most fully to all the require- 
ments of that standard. The highest philosophy 
connected with history is that -which makes it speak 
by the truthful examples it furnishes. 

The work having increased to such an extent in the 
West and South, the bishops united in recommending 
the General Conference to divide the Western Con- 
ference into two, to be called the Ohio and Tennes- 
see Conferences, the forme? to comprehend the Salt 


River, Kentucky, Miami, and Muskingum Districts, 
and the latter to embrace the Holston, Nashville, 
Cumberland, Wabash, and Illinois Districts. Acting 
on this recommendation the division was made, and 
the bishops were empowered, should they deem it 
necessary, with the concurrence of the Annual Con- 
ferences concerned, to organize another Conference 
farther South. 

As yet the Church had no missionary society. It 
was, indeed, itself missionary in all its operations ; but 
no specific regulations had been adopted for the 
raising of missionary funds, apart from the efforts of 
Asbury, who carried his little blank-book in his 
pocket, and solicited subscriptions wherever he went. 
We have been greatly interested in looking over one 
of these missionary subscription books. It contains 
long lists -of names, from the east, west, north, and 
south, of members of the Church, and others friendly 
to Methodism. Among these we have the autographs 
of many preachers, some of whom are still living ; but 
the great majority have passed away, and joined the 
sainted Asbury in the better land. 

That ever fruitful theme of discussion and excite- 
ment, the subject of slavery, was again brought be- 
fore the General Conference, by a motion suggesting 
an inquiry into the nature and moral tendency of 
the system. It was considered, however, in the judg- 
ment of the Conference, that no further action was 


necessary or desirable, and the motion was accord- 
ingly laid on the table without debate. In alluding 
to this Conference, Asbury says, in his Journal : 
" There were many and weighty affairs discussed, 
among which was a motion to strengthen the episco- 
pacy. After a serious struggle of two days, to change 
the mode of appointing presiding elders, it remains 
as it was. Means had been used to keep back every 
presiding elder who was known to be favorable to 
their appointment by the bishops, and long and earn- 
est speeches have been made to influence the minds 
of the members. Lee, Shinn, and Snethen were of 
a side, and these are great men." 

This was the last General Conference which Asbury 
attended. He had seen Methodism in its infancy in 
America, and like a father had watched over its de- 
velopment until it had arisen to vigorous manhood. 
He saw the Church as she extended her conquests and 
influence from the cold provinces of Canada to the 
sunny savannas of Georgia, and from the shores of the 
Atlantic to the "father of waters" in the distant West. 
He had held forth to listening thousands in crowded 
cities, and at great camp-meetings in the wilderness, 
and had preached to little flocks in solitary log-cabins, 
always and everywhere the same affectionate and inde- 
fatigable servant of the Church. In alluding further to 
this General Conference, he said he "saw nothing like 
unkindness but once, and there were many weighty 


affairs discussed. A subject before it was the ques- 
tion, If local deacons, after four years of probation, 
should be elected to the eldership by two-thirds of the 
Conference, having no slaves, and having them, to 
manumit them where the laws will allow it, 
shall they be ordained? This passed by a large 

After the session was ended the bishop left New 
York for " Sherwood Yale," where, as usual, he en- 
joyed the hospitalities of his old friends. From 
hence he went to Croton, to visit his friend, Gov- 
ernor Yan Cortlandt, whom he called the elder of 
ninety. While in this neighborhood he preached at 
White Plains. From hence he w r ent, in company 
with his old friend Boehm, to Peekskill and Rhine- 
beck, on the Hudson. He was now suffering from 
illness, and at times had high fevers. A sickness 
that would have laid up most men was endured 
by this astonishing man in the very midst of heavy 
labors and long rides. At Albany he met the Con- 
ference, and with unremitting attention transacted 
all the episcopal business. The Dutch Reformed 
Synod was in session at the same time. During his 
stay he preached on the site which had been selected 
for a new church. 

From this place he passed on through Connecticut 
and arrived at Lynn, where the New England Con- 
ference held its session. Here he read the proclama- 


tion of the President of the United States, declaring 
war between this country and Great Britain. The 
church in Lynn, which had a steeple, excited the 
regret of Asbury on that account, and he admonished 
the Methodists in relation to some things which he 
regarded as extravagances, and a departure from 
that primitive simplicity which he fondly hoped 
would ever characterize the Church. At Pittsfield 
he was grieved at hearing of a division of the 
Church, and a secession therefrom of three hundred 
and eighty. From this place he visited Lansingburg 
and Troy, and from thence went to Lyons, the place 
of the session of the Genesee Conference. There 
were thirty preachers present, and the business of the 
Conference was conducted with great concord. He 
was deterred on account of the war from visiting the 
frontier work on the Niagara, a thing which he 
greatly desired to do. From hence he directed his 
course to Pennsylvania. On his route, as was often 
the case, he was obliged to stop at a public house. 
The entertainment he received, we may judge from 
his Journal, was not of a very agreeable character. 
He says : " Farewell to Merwines ; I lodge no more 
there ; a whisky hell, as most of the taverns are." 

In crossing the Lehigh he was led to express 
his admiration of the beautiful country of the 
"Wyoming. In speaking of the Germans he says : 
"They are djecent in their behavior, and would be 


more so were it not for vile whisky, which is the 
prime curse of the United States, and which, I fear, 
will prove the ruin of all that is excellent in morals 
and government." In regard to the war which was 
then raging, he remarks : " I feel a deep concern for 
the Old and New World. Calamity and suffering 
are coming upon them both. I shall make but few 
remarks on this unhappy subject, as it is one on 
which the prudent will be silent, but I must needs 
say it is an evil day. I have written many letters of 
serious warning to our elders." His next stopping 
place was a camp-meeting on Pipe Creek, Maryland. 
This was a large encampment, having a hundred 
tents, and a congregation of five thousand. During 
this meeting he labored incessantly night and day, 
sleeping but about two hours out of the twenty-four. 
From this meeting he crossed the south mountain 
and preached to large congregations in Cumberland. 
In crossing the mountain he says : " We had a 
strange medley of preachers, drovers, beasts on four 
legs, and beasts made by whisky on two, traveling 
on the turnpike at the same time." Having descend- 
ed the western slope of the Alleghanies, he urged his 
way to another camp-meeting, where he preached on 
Friday and Saturday. The ministry, which had been 
carefully instructed to preach to the soldiers, were 
not faithless on this occasion. 

The commanding officer of a large company of sol- 


diers, on the eve of starting for Buffalo, sent a note to 
the clergy on the camp-ground, requesting that the 
soldiers might be addressed by one of the ministers 
previous to their marching. Bishop Asbury, who 
was present, had an answer communicated, inform- 
ing the commander that his request should be com- 
plied with. Accordingly, the officers and men 
marched out in rank and file to the encampment, 
where they were met and conducted to seats pre- 
pared for them. The bishop gave out the hymn, 

"Soldiers of Christ arise, 
And put your armor on." 

He then addressed the throne of grace, and prayed 
most fervently for the President of the United States, 
the Cabinet, the Senate, and House of Representa- 
tives. His text was, " And the soldiers likewise de- 
manded of him saying, And what shall we do ? And 
he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither 
accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages." 
Luke iii, 14. In his discourse he dwelt impressively 
on the evils of war, its destructive influence upon 
commerce, the arts of life, and the wealth of nations, 
but more particularly its pernicious effects in relation 
to religion and morals. He showed that war should, 
if possible, be avoided, and it never should be de- 
clared only as a dernier resort. If Christian nations 
should be embroiled in war, they should only act on 


the defensive. He also enlarged upon the import- 
ance of good discipline in an army, and showed that 
the government or military discipline could at the 
same time be strict and mild, and that the officers 
should be kind and generous to their men. In a 
word, he said that the commanding officer should be 
as a father to his soldiers, and they should in turn be 
obedient to all his military commands. He concluded 
by giving a fatherly advice to the soldiers. After 
his discourse he descended, and took a position where 
the company passed in review before him. As the 
commanding officer approached he placed his hands 
upon his head and prayed for him most fervently, 
blessing him in the name of the Lord ; then each of 
the officers ; and as the soldiers passed he took each 
one by the hand and gave them a parting blessing. 
Tears flowed from every eye of the thousands 
gathered there. 

His next point was a camp-meeting on Indian 
Short Creek, where he found nearly a hundred tents, 
and thousands of people congregated from the sur- 
rounding country. This meeting was attended with 
unusual interest, and a large number of converts 
were added to the Church. His route from this 
was through Barnesville, and thence on to the Wills' 
Creek neighborhood, and thence to Zanesville, where, 
sick and weary, he found rest in the hospitable man- 
sion of Christian Spangler, Esq., one of the early and 


fast friends of Methodism in Ohio. Having recov- 
ered and recruited, he started out to another camp- 
meeting, on Rush Creek. This also was a powerful 
meeting, and was kept up day and night, resulting in 
great good. From hence he passed through Lancas- 
ter, and on to Chillicothe, where he visited Judge 
Yan Meter and White Brown. While here he held 
the Ohio Conference, where he labored hard, but was 
much assisted by the elders in the stationing of the 
preachers. In a computation which he makes of his 
travels, he says he had journeyed six thousand miles 
in eight months, had met nine Conferences, and at- 
tended ten camp-meetings. The records of itiner- 
ancy nowhere in the world can furnish such an 
example of travel and toil." 

In his visit to Cincinnati he was somewhat de- 
pressed in spirits at finding the Church low in relig- 
ion. Kobler, Hunt, Bowman, Burke, and Collins 
had introduced Methodism into Cincinnati several 
years before. The first Methodist Church was erect- 
ed in the year 1806, and was now undergoing an en- 
largement. Passing over into Kentucky he directed 
his course to Frankfort, the capital of the state, where 
he preached in the hall of the House of Representa- 
tives. From this place he went to Louisville, situated 
at the falls of the Ohio, where he preached, and from 
thence entered the interior and passed on to Nash- 
ville, Tennessee. On Sabbath, November llth, he 


preached in the new brick church, which he describes 
as being thirty-four feet square with galleries. Re- 
ferring to his former labors here, he says : " Twelve 
years ago I preached in the old stone-house, taken 
down since to make a site for the state-house. The 
latter house exceeds the former in glory, and stands 
exactly where our house of worship should by right 
have stood, but we bear all things patiently." Con- 
ference was held this year at G win's, and there were 
present a large number of preachers. Forty were 
ordained to the office of deacon, and ten to the office 
of elder. The increase in the bounds of the Confer- 
ence during the year was eight thousand. 

His route after this lay through North and South 
Carolina. At Columbia he preached in the House 
of Representatives. His next point was Charleston, 
where Conference was held. He speaks of the har- 
mony which subsisted between the presiding elders 
and the episcopacy with evident satisfaction. The 
increase during the year in the bounds of the Con- 
ference was eighteen thousand. The bishop lamented 
the loss of fourteen itinerants by location. His route 
from Charleston was to Georgetown, and thus on 
through the Peedee settlements. At the residence 
of General Lee he was quite unwell, but he rested 
not. At Fayetteville he had to be carried into 
church, and, notwithstanding his illness, preached 
to the congregation assembled. From the meeting 



he went home to Mr. Russell's, and was thoroughly 
blistered for a high fever. In two days we find him 
on the route of travel again, and though he had a 
fever he rode through a bitter cold thirty miU--. 
and the next day thirty-six, which brought him t-> 
Wilmington, ISTorth Carolina, where he was again 
carried into church, that he might minister the 
word of life. With fever and swelled feet he start- 
ed out from this place, holding meetings on his 
way, to Xewbern, the seat of the Conference, 
which was held, as he says, in Sister Tenkard's 
elegant school-room. This Conference was char- 
acterized by " great order, great union, and great 
dispatch of business." Passing through Halifax, 
Petersburgh, and Richmond, preaching at these and 
intermediate points, he arrived at Georgetown, Dis- 
trict of Columbia. While here he received an invi- 
tation from the British Conference, requesting him 
to visit that body, and engaging to pay all the ex- 
penses of the journey. 

At Baltimore he held Conference, which was 
opened April 24, 1813. The Conference was com- 
posed of ninety preachers ; the number of white 
members was twenty thousand two hundred and 
seventy-two, and of colored members seven hundred 
and ninety-nine. Again we find him, after the ses- 
sion of the Conference, at his much-loved home, Perry 
Hall. From hence he passed through Delaware, and 


attended the Conference in Philadelphia. While 
here he preached at the Academy, St. George's, Eb- 
enezer, and the Tabernacle. His next point was 
Burlington, New Jersey. It seemed to be a doubt 
in the mind of the bishop whether Burlington or Tren- 
ton would ever become famous for vital religion. 
Preaching at Lnmberton, Allentown, Bahway, and 
Belleville, he went to Sherwood's, New York, and 
from thence on to Amenia, where the Conference 
was held. It was a time of order and peace, though 
the bishop pleasantly said, " King Gordius had well 
nigh been among us, but the knots were untied 
peaceably, and not cut in rashness." Speaking of his 
colleague's sermon on Sabbath, he remarked : " Bishop 
M'Kendree preached. It appeared to me as if a ray 
of Divine glory rested on him. His subject was, 
4 Great peace have they that love thy law, and noth- 
ing shall offend them." Before announcing the ap- 
pointments of the preachers Asbury delivered a val- 
edictory address, in which he assured them that the 
plan of their future labors was deliberately formed 
with the aid of the collected wisdom of judicious 
counsel and much prayer. 

The Eastern route jiow lay before him, and taking 
up the line of travel he crossed over Connecticut, 
]STew Hampshire, and Massachusetts. At Winches- 
ter he wrote his last will and testament, making 
M'Kendree, Hitt, and Boehm his executors. While 


in New England he remarked: "I believe for one 
that there has been more true Gospel preaching in 
the other states than in the five New England states, 
with all their boasting. I have difficulties to en- 
counter, but I must be silent. In New England we 
sing, we build houses, we eat, and stand at prayer. 
Were I to labor forty years more I suppose I should 
not succeed in getting things right. O rare steeple 
houses, bells ! (organs by and by ?) these things are 
against me, and contrary to the simplicity of Christ." 
At the session of the Conference at Colchester, a 
resolution was passed against steeples and pews. 

At Providence he was introduced to Governor 
Jones, who received him with great cordiality. 
From the East he returned to New York. Conference 
was held at Westmoreland. In his journey to this 
place he complained of hunger and heat, and re- 
marked that the East was not hospitable. Maryland 
or the South was to him the land of hospitality. A 
large concourse of people was assembled at the Con- 
ference, and thousands were preached to by the 
bishops and preachers. From hence he started for 
the West, and while among the mountains he found 
a stopping place at a German Lutheran's, whose 
son was a preacher, but refused to read or pray in 
the family. " Alas," said Asbury, " so stupid and 
so wicked ! I would rather be a slave in South Caro- 
lina with the Gospel and a good master !" 


While here he prepared a valedictory address to 
Bishop M'Kendree, who in conjunction with the Gen- 
esee Conference had requested him to give his opin- 
ion in relation to the government and usages of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. The address is quite 
lengthy, and enters elaborately into a discussion of 
the Church dogma of apostolical succession. As it 
never has been published, we shall make such ex- 
tracts from it as are considered most important, and 
possessing the greatest interest at the present day. 
Some of the views entertained by the bishop would 
doubtless have been modified had he lived to witness 
the progress of the Church and the country. They 
were, however, wisely adapted to his day, and will 
serve to show how narrowly he watched over all the 
interests of his beloved Methodism. In regard to the 
episcopacy and its duties, he says : " My desire is 
that there may be four effective bishops traveling, as 
from the beginning, through the whole continent, 
one to preside alternately in all the Conferences, (not 
to change presidents during the sitting of the same 
Conference, unless in cases of indisposition,) the 
other two or three to plan the stations and per- 
form ordinations, assisted by the elders in both 
branches. The plan of stations should be submitted 
to the president, time enough for him to give a final 
decision before the appointments are read to the 


"I would particularly warn you to guard against 
the growing evil of locality in bishops, ciders, and 
preachers, or Conferences. Locality is essential to 
towns and cities, traveling is as essential to the coun- 
try. AVere I to name cities, such as Jerusalem, An- 
tioch, Rome, and all the great cities both ancient 
and modern, what havoc have these made in the 
Churches ? Alas for us ! out of seven hundred 
preachers we have about one hundred located in 
towns and cities and small circuits, and in some 
week-day preaching nearly abandoned. 

" Guard against two orders of preachers, one for the 
country and the other for the cities. The latter gen- 
erally settle themselves to purchase ministers, and 
men of gifts and learning too often set themselves to 
sale. I am bold to say that the apostolic order of 
things was lost in the first century ; and since that 
time Church government may be compared to the 
rolling of a snow-ball, gathering much filth of various 
kinds. At the time of the Reformation, the reform- 
ers beat off only part of the dirt ; and for many cen- 
turies more filth has been rolled on to an enormous 

" In the eighteenth century John Wesley formed an 
evangelical society in England. At the first General 
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, held 
in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1781, an apostolical 
form of Church government and order was formed in 


America. You know that the present ministerial 
cant is, we cannot now, as in former apostolic days, 
have such doctrines, such discipline, such convictions, 
such conversions, such witnesses of sanctification, and 
such holy men. But I say we can, I say we must, 
yea, I say we have in part ; and can men claim the 
rights and privileges of apostles if they are impostors 
and not true ministers? Thus, instead of going to 
preach they stay to preach. Hence schools, col- 
leges, and universities are resorted to in order to 
make ministers, a practice Christ never commanded. 
The present Episcopal churches are local and greatly 
independent. All the numerous orders of Presby- 
terians, Independents, and Baptists are local still. If 
we wish pure Church history, see the Acts of the 
Apostles, men flying by the impulse of the Spirit and 
driven by persecution. See Paul, Timothy, Titus, 
Tychicus, Archippus, Trophimus, Artemas, Luke, 
Epaphroditus, etc. At present I can only view it in 
this light, that with many ministers men go into the 
ministry by their learning, by their parents, or blind 
priests like themselves, moved by pride, worldly 
honor, or Satan. Observe well what a situation the 
apostles found themselves in ! If unfaithful God 
would condemn them with a double condemnation, 
the people ready to starve, stone, or beat them to 
death. Modern priests seek to please the people 
that they may not beat or starve them to death. 

ir>6 I-'. B AM) TIMKS OF 

But will not God condemn false teachers to the 
nethermost hell? "We lay no claim to the Latin, 
Greek, English, Lutheran, or Protestant Episcopal 
Church episcopal order. It will be easily seen 
that we are so unlike each other that we are not 
even third cousins. Will their bishops ride from 
five to six thousand miles in nine months for eighty 
dollars a year, with traveling expenses, less or more ; 
preach daily when opportunity serves ; meet six 
camp-meetings in the year ; make arrangements for 
seven hundred preachers, and ordain one hundred 
men annually ; ride through all kinds of weather and 
roads, at our time of life, the one fifty-six and the 
other sixty-nine years of age ? 

" Be sure always to see how the charitable contribu- 
tions are appropriated. Never sign the journals till 
everything is correctly recorded. Be rigidly strict in 
all things ; and should there be a failure in any depart- 
ment, such as you cannot cure, appeal to the General 
Conference for a final decision. Examine well and 
with caution admit men into the ministry. It is ours 
to plead, protest, and oppose designing men from get- 
ting into the ministry. It is our fort, stronghold, and 
glory, and the superior excellency of our economy, 
that each character must undergo a strict examina- 
tion every year. Put men into office in whom you 
can confide. If they disappoint you let them do it 
but once. Of all wickedness spiritual wickedness is 


the greatest, and of all deception religious deception 
is the worst. Fear not for the ark ; God will care for 
his own cause. If we have not men of great talent 
we have men of good hearts. Preserve a noble inde- 
pendence of soul on all occasions. Be the willing serv- 
ant of slaves, but the slave to none. Put full confi- 
dence in men that merit it; be not afraid to trust 
young men, they are not so likely to fail as old 
men; young men are willing and they are able to 

" Ours is not a civil, but a spiritual government, 
therefore one election is sufficient to secure a man's 
standing and office, unless in cases of debility, crimi- 
nality, or corruption in administration. 

" The circulation of our traveling and local minis- 
try with their different gifts and diversity of talents 
is admirably calculated to be singularly useful. 
Many of our local brethren travel hundreds of miles 
in the course of the year, and highly enjoy them- 
selves, and feel perfectly at ease and at home in the 
different circuits and districts, preaching anywhere 
and everywhere without fear of offending the travel- 
ing preachers." 

While Asbury was opposed to educating men for 
the ministry as they would be educated for any other 
profession, without regard to a Divine call, he was 
yet altogether in favor of having Methodist preach- 


ers thoroughly educated, and gave, in his own dili- 
gent attention to study, an example to all his sons in 
the ministry. Th'mirh there were then no colleges 
or Biblical Institutes in the Church, yet the study of 
the learned languages was by no means neglected ; 
and Asbury well knew that he would prove un- 
worthy of his relation as a son of Wesley and a 
colleague of Coke, did he not advocate to the 
extent of his ability the importance of a sound 
and thorough education in matters pertaining to 
general science and literature, as well as a theolog- 
ical training. 

After preaching at Boehm's Chapel he went to a 
camp-meeting. This meeting was largely attended. 
While at the Widow Willis's he entered the follow- 
ing tribute in his Journal : 

"From the door I saw the tomb of dear Henry 
Willis. Rest, man of God! Thy quiet dust is not 
called to ride five thousand miles in eight months, 
to meet ten Conferences in a line of sessions from 
the district of Maine to the banks of the Cayuga, 
to the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi, to 
Cape Fear, James River, Baltimore, Philadelphia, 
and the completion of the round. Thou wilt not 
plan and labor and arrange the stations of seven 
hundred preachers. Thou w r ilt not attend camp- 
meetings and take a daily part in the ministration 
of the word, and often consume the hours which 


ought to be devoted to sleep in writing letters upon 

From hence he went to the Pipe Creek camp- 
meeting. While here he said : " We are told there 
are between forty and fifty converts, and many pro- 
fessors powerfully quickened. The poor Africans, 
abandoned by all sects to us, were greatly engaged." 
Crossing the mountains he entered Ohio, and held 
Conference at Brownsville. Taking Chillicothe and 
West Union in his route, he entered Kentucky, and 
visited his old friend Dr. Hincle, in Clark county. 
" Once more," said he, " I see Dr. Hinde from the 
other side the flood rejoicing in Jesus. He will 
never again, I presume, put a blister on his wife's 
head to draw Methodism out of her heart. This mad 
prank brought deep conviction by the operation of 
the Spirit of God upon his soul." 

From hence he went to the Tennessee Conference. 
This Conference was one of peace and prosperity; 
the families in the neighborhood were extensively 
visited, and much good resulted therefrom. During 
this Southern route Asbury records the following 
significant sentence : " On the peaceful banks of the 
Saluda I write my valedictory address to the presid- 
ing elders." As a faithful old patriarch, leaning 
upon his staff, he addressed the elders of the tribes 
of the Methodist Israel, being assured that he 
would ere long be called away from their councils. 

}'.> LIFE A XI) TIMKS <>F 

After visiting Georgia, encourairini: and strength- 
ening the Churches, lie returned to Charleston, 
where he preached in all the Methodist churrhrs. 
In North Carolina he received intelligence that 
Dr. Coke had sailed with a company of missionaries 
for India. In Norfolk, where Conference was held, 
he was quite afflicted. During his illness he says : 
"I have been moved about among the families" (so 
great was the desire to have him) " of the "Wil- 
] : .amses, the Harrises, the Weavers, the Bennetts, and 
the Merediths; and O what kindness and nursing!" 
His next point was Richmond, and from thence to 
Georgetown. The following note was made in 
his Journal : " In the year 1774 I first visited Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina ; in the year 1780 I repeat- 
ed my visit, and since that time yearly. In the year 
1785 I first visited South Carolina and Georgia, and 
to these states, except one year, I have since paid an 
annual visit until now, 1814. I suppose I have 
crossed the Alleghany Mountains sixty times." 

The Baltimore Conference, which held its session 
in 1814 at Georgetown, D. C., requested him to 
preach a funeral discourse on the death of Otterbein. 
Speaking of him Asbury says : " The holy, the great 
Otterbein ! Forty years have I known the retiring 
modesty of this man of God, towering majestic above 
his fellows in learning, wisdom, and grace, yet seek- 
ing to be known only of God and the people of God." 


Again he visited Perry Hall, where he was sick 
several days, receiving the kind attentions of that 
hospitable mansion. His next Conference was held 
in Philadelphia. From this Conference he wrote a 
serious and affectionate letter to the !N"ew England 
Conference, remonstrating on the neglect of family 
worship. He was much afflicted during this time, 
and for twelve weeks made no entry in his Journal. 
He was burdened with attention and kindness during 
his illness, and says : " I would not be loved to death. 
Attentions constant, and kindness unceasing, have 
pursued me to this place, (Greensburgh,) and my 
strength increases daily. I look back upon a mar- 
tyr's life of toil, privation, and pain, and I am ready 
for a martyr's death ! My friends in Philadelphia 
gave me a light four-wheeled carriage ; but God 
and the Baltimore Conference made me a richer 
present ; they gave me John Wesley Bond for a trav- 
eling companion. Has he his equal on earth for 
excellences of every kind as an aid ?" 

On his Western tour he stopped at Pittsburgh, and 
thence passed on through Ohio, stopping at Steuben- 
ville, Zanesville, Middletown, Circleville, and other 
places, where Bond preached. Asbury was prevailed 
upon to preach in Chillicothe, but it was in great 
weakness and suffering. The Conference was held 
at Cincinnati. At this place he expected to have 
met M'Kendree, but the latter had been thrown 


from his horse and considerably injured. A>bury 
being unable to preside, his place was occupied bv 
Jolm Sale. "While here gloomy tidings were receiv- 
ed in relation to the war ; the British had entered 
Maryland, and burned the public buildings at 

From Cincinnati he went to the Kentucky Confer- 
ence, which was held on the camp-ground. At this 
meeting the bishop pleasantly remarked : " Our en- 
campment cook is Brother Douglass ; as for the bish- 
ops, they are sick, lame, and in poverty." From 
hence they passed through North and South Carolina, 
and attended Conference in Georgia. From this 
point, returning through North and South Carolina, 
they went into Virginia. At the Conference held in 
Lynchburgh he was severely attacked with asthma 
and spitting of blood. At the Baltimore Conference 
he was quite feeble, but notwithstanding preached 
several times, and attended to the work of stationing 
the preachers. 

Again we find the worn and weary bishop at that 
place he so much loved, and which he so often visited, 
Perry Hall. A sense of loneliness, however, came 
upon him as he remembered the friends of other days 
who had passed away. The seasons of happiness he 
had spent with some of the inmates of that hospita- 
ble mansion were gone, never to return. This was 
the last visit of the bishop to this place. 


In much feebleness he entered upon his Eastern 
route, passing through Delaware, Pennsylvania, and 
New Jersey. At New York he attended the North 
Church and preached, and from hence went to Cro- 
ton, visiting the family of Governor Yan Cortlandt, 
who had entered into rest. Conference was held at 
Albany, and at the request of the members he 
preached the funeral sermon of Dr. Coke, who had 
died on the passage to the East Indies, and was 
buried in the Indian Ocean. "We find the following 
tribute in Asbury's Journal : " Dr. Coke, of blessed 
mind and soul, of the third branch of Oxonian Meth- 
odists, a gentleman, a scholar, and a bishop to us. 
As a minister of Christ, in zeal, in labor, and in ser- 
vices, the greatest man in the last century." 

The Rev. William Thacher, who was a member 
of the New York Conference, and was present at this 
session, thus writes in relation to Asbury : 

" Bishop Asbury, almost done, is with us again, sus- 
tained by Bishop M'Kendree. Bishop Asbury is like 
the old patriarch, bowing down upon the top of his 
staff, his bodily strength much prostrated, his speech 
failed of its usual articulation, and his voice of its 
animated tone. But little of his presence was afford- 
ed us in Conference. Forty-four years' hardships, and 
indefatigable labor and traveling, and the fatigues 
and cares of Conferences, has worn him down; and 
that which came upon him daily, the care of all the 


Churches, was never more deeply and heavily iV-lt 
ly man. These things engrossed his whole soul, lie 

was the apostle of American Methodism, and had 
literally laid down his life for his brethren, ever pre- 
pared to divide his last dollar with a needy preacher. 
He was now in his last year. Desiring an interview 
with me he sent me word, and I called to see him at 
his lodgings, and with a most tender solicitude for me 
and mine he gave me some kind and affectionate 
advice, and demonstrated his love for and confidence 
in me ; then, with an overflowing heart, bade me his 
last parental farewell." 

From this Conference Asbury and his companions 
started for Massachusetts. The Conference was held 
at Unity. On his way he was detained two days 
with affliction in Boston, but was able to preach in 
the evening previous to leaving. This was his last 
sermon in Boston. He was unable to preside at the 
Conference, and his place was supplied by George 
Pickering. On his return to NQ\V York he preached 
at Ashgrove and at Freeborn Garrettson's. On Sab- 
bath, the 18th of June, 1815, he preached in New 
York at the Fourth-street Chapel, and at the African 
Chapel on Tuesday. The church was crowded by 
both white and colored people. These were his last 
ministrations in this city. His text at Fourth-street 
was Zephaniah i, 12: "And it shall come to pass at 
that time that I will search Jerusalem with candles, 


and punish the men that are settled on their lees, 
that say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, 
neither will he do evil." There are living those who 
heard this discourse, and who represent it as pungent 
and searching, full of awakening power to the Church, 
but abounding in tenderness. 


From New York he went to Philadelphia, where 
he also delivered his last message to a large and 
deeply interested congregation. His next sermon 
was at Carlisle, and from thence, to use his own 
expression, he " beat across the mountains." He 
preached at Somerset, Brightwell's, and Washing- 
ton. While at the latter place he says : " A Baptist 
missionary came into town collecting money for for- 
eign lands. We labor for those at home. Feeble as 
I was, the necessity of bearing testimony to the truth 
pressed upon me. As our Baptist brother talked and 
read letters upon missions to foreign lands, I thought 
I might help with a few words. I related that a few 
years past a London Methodist member, in conversa- 
tion, had complained to me that the kingdom and the 
Church had given so largely to support foreign mis- 
sions. I observed in reply that the Methodist preach- 
ers who had been sent by John Wesley to America, 
came as missionaries ; some returned, others did not ; 
and now behold the consequences of this mission : 
we have seven hundred traveling, and three thou- 
sand local preachers who cost nothing. We will not 



give up the eau<r. we will not abandon tlic world to 
infidel- ; nay, wo will be their plagues; they will find 
it herculean work to put us down. We will not give 
up that which we know to be glorious until we see 
something more glorious; nor will we concede an 
inch to schismatics and heretics, who say 'Do away 
your forms, and leave your peculiar doctrines, and 
we will show you something better.' Show it to us 
first ; we are not ignorant of Satan's devices." 

At West Liberty he preached from the text, "The 
time is short." His next stopping place was Zanes- 
ville, in the vicinity of which a camp-meeting was in 
progress. TVithin the last three months he had trav- 
eled through New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and a portion of Ohio. 
He visited the encampment, and preached from 
2 Cor. v, 2: "Knowing the terror of the Lord we 
persuade men." His sermon was unusually interest- 
ing and powerful, and several souls were converted 
through its instrumentality. David Young, one of 
the most popular among the preachers of that day, 
was present at this camp-meeting. Though advanced 
in years and feeble, he is still living in Zanesville, a 
patriarch of Western Methodism beloved by all. As- 
bury's next appointment was in Chillicothe. His text 
was, " And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter." 
After the sermon intelligence came to him that his 
friend Eleanor Worthington was ill and desired to 


see him. He accordingly visited her, and in conver- 
sation with her found that she was much exercised 
on the subject of religion. She was a member of the 
Episcopal Church, and had doubtless been converted, 
but lacked that assurance which is the privilege of 
the children of God. When the bishop told her it 
was common for persons to be well assured that God 
had blessed them, her countenance was instantly 
lighted up, and her heart overflowed with joy. He 
administered the sacrament of the holy communion, 
and left her rejoicing in the Lord. 

While here he received the intelligence of the 
overthrow of Bonaparte, and indulged in the follow- 
ing reflections: "The time is coming that all kings 
and rulers must acknowledge the reign of the King 
of kings, or feel the rod of the Son of God. But will 
forms do for the United States of America ? Foolish 
people will think they have a right to govern them- 
selves as they please ; aye, and Satan will help them. 
Will this do for us? Is not this republic, this land, 
this people, the Lord's? We acknowledge no other 
king but the eternal King ; and if our great men will 
not rule in righteousness, but forget God and Christ, 
the consequence will be ruin." 

At a camp-meeting held near Mechanicsburgh he 
preached from the text, "The day is far spent, and 
the night is at hand." Thursday, September 14, 
he says : " Our Ohio Conference began, and all 

1>8 i. ii ']: AND TIMK- 

nir fears vanished. \\\- have great peace, abund- 
ance of accommodation, and comfortable soa-nn- 
in preaching noon and night in the court-house 
and the chapel. Great grace, peace, and success 
have attended our coming together. We have sixty- 
eight preachers. Ten delegates have been chosen 
to attend the next General Conference." Bishop 
M'lvendree was present at the Conference, and at 
its conclusion the two went to Cincinnati. 

While in this place Asbury had a long and earnest 
conversation with M'Kendree in regard to the affairs 


of the Church. He gave it as his opinion that the 
western part of the United States would be the glory 
of America for the poor and pious, and that it ought 
to be marked out for five Conferences, and he traced 
out their boundaries. Having passed the first allot- 
ted period of life, threescore and ten years, and being 
in ill health, he informed him that it could not be 
expected that he should visit the extremities every 
year, sitting in eight Conferences and traveling six 
thousand miles in eight months. The labor and anx- 
iety connected with the stationing of the preachers 
he regarded as too great a tax upon him in his feeble 
health. From Cincinnati he went to Lebanon, and 
preached, at the request of the Conference, a memo- 
rial sermon on the occasion of the death of Dr. Coke. 
On the following Sabbath he preached his last ser- 
mon in Cincinnati, and from thence passed over into 


Kentucky, preaching at Georgetown and Lexington. 
Here Conference was held. On Sabbath he ordained 
the deacons, and preached on the occasion of the 
death of Coke. "While here he entered the following 


in his Journal : " My eyes fail ; I will resign the 
stations to Bishop M'Kendree ; I will take away my 
feet ; it is the fiftieth year of my ministry, and forty- 
fifth year of labor in America. My mind enjoys 
great peace and divine consolation. My health is 
better, which may in part be because I am less 
deeply interested in the business of Conferences ; but 
whether health, life, or death, good is the will of the 
Lord. { I will trust him, yea, I will praise him ; he 
is the strength . of my heart, and my portion for- 
ever.' " 

470 Lin: AM TIMES OF 


Educational Advantages His Devotion to Study His Knowledge of 
the Languages Thorough Course of Reading Hebrew Bible and 
Greek Testament his constant Companions Critical Exegesis Power 
of Discrimination Style of Writing Imagination and Wit Speci- 
mens Gracefulness of Style Specimens An Appreciative Sense 
of the Beautiful A Man of Sympathy Notices of Books in his 
Course of Reading Criticisms His Skeletons of Sermons Secret 
of his success as a Student Method of Study His Library --Prep- 
arations for the Pulpit Obituaries in the early Minutes written by 
Asbury Epistolary Correspondence Letters. 

ASBURY was not in the strict sense of the word a 
scholar, and yet he was far from being deficient 
in education. He did not, like the Wesleys, and 
Fletcher, and Coke, enjoy the advantages of a col- 
legiate training, his opportunity for literary culture 
being simply such as was to be found in the primary 
schools of that day in England ; but at the same time 
such was his love of study, and his unremitting appli- 
cation, that he amassed an amount of varied learning 
that was astonishing, when we consider the circum- 
stances under which it was attained. Riding day 
and night on horseback, and lodging mostly in the 
cabins of the wilderness, where there were neither 
books nor facilities for study, and when in the cities 
and towns holding quarterly meetings, councils, and 
conferences, and having the care of all the Churches, 


temporal as well as spiritual, himself originating and 
acting as agent for all the institutions of the Church, 
the wonder is that he was able to prosecute with suc- 
cess any department of study. As it was, he made 
himself acquainted with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, 
besides taking a thorough course of reading in Theol- 
ogy, Church History and Polity, Civil History and 
General Literature. His Hebrew Bible and Greek 
Testament were his daily companions ; and though in 
his preparations for the pulpit he made no show of 
learning, yet his numerous sketches furnish abundant 
evidence of the fact that he was skilled in critical 
exegesis, and "a workman that need not be ashamed, 
rightly dividing the word of truth" with a power of 
discrimination rarely attained. His style of writing, 
as his Journal in three volumes will show, was plain, 
pointed, direct. He seemed to eschew all figures of 
speech, and to express his thoughts with sturdy old 
Anglo-Saxon nervousness. Occasionally a slight 
sparkle of wit may be found playing like a sunshine 
over his grave sentences, and sometimes, though 
rarely, he indulged in a flight of imagination that 
shows he was not destitute of the elements of a 
graceful writer. As mere specimens we present 
the following, which we take from the volume 
now in our hand. 

While on a visit to ISTew Haven, the seat of 
Yale College, he makes the following remark: 


"New Haven! tliou seat of science and of sin! 
Can thy dry bones live ( 'O Lord! thou know- 
est.' While at Middlebury, the seat of a col- 
lege, he entered the following: "At Middlebury we 
iind college-craft and priest-craft." At a certain 
place in the South he said of the people that they 
had " more gold than grace ;" and describing another 
place he said, " they had neither dollars nor disci- 
pline, being sadly deficient in both." While at the 
salt-works in Kentucky, he exclaimed : " Alas ! there 
is little salt here, and when Sister Russell is gone 
there will be none left." Boston, he said, " was 
famous for poor religion and bad water." Alluding 
to a congregation there who sold their preacher to 
another congregation for a thousand dollars, and 
loaned out the money at thirty per cent., he said : 
" How would it do to tell the South that priests 
were among the notions of Yankee traffic." New 
York, he said, was " as famous for oysters and bad 
ale" as "Asbury town was for distillation and bad 
whisky." Traveling in New Jersey, he remarked : 
" Since this day week I have ridden over dead sands 
and among a dead people, and a long space between 
meals." We might easily multiply specimens of 
Asbury's wit, which, though rarely if ever in- 
dulged while occupying the pulpit, yet would 
flash out among the preachers in council and 
Conference at times in the most genial manner. 


Like Cowper's village pastor, he never stooped from 
the holy place, 

" To court a grin when he should woo a soul." 

But we promised some examples of gracefulness" of 
style or beauty of composition. Having attended 
the session of the New York Conference which was 
held in John-street in the summer of 1802, he 
says, " it would require a volume to tell the restless 
tossings he had, the difficulties and anxieties he felt 
about the preachers and people here and elsewhere, 
alternate joy and sorrow ; but I am done, I am gone ! 
JSTew York, once more farewell !" Having passed 
the din and strife of the city, and having gained the 
country, he says : " How sweet to me are all the calm 
scenes of life which now surround me on every side. 
The quiet country houses, the fields and orchards 
bearing the promise of a fruitful year; the flocks 
and herds, the hills, and vales, and dewy meads, the 
gliding streams and murmuring brooks ; and tliou, 
too, solitude, with thy attendants, silence and medita- 
tion, how dost thou solace my pensive mind after the 
tempest of fear, and care, and tumult, and talk of 
the noisy, bustling city." 

While in the South, after riding, as he describes 
it, six hundred miles over the hills, barrens, swamps, 
savannas, rivers, and creeks of South Carolina, he 
says : " At Gause's Manor we were pleasantly situ- 

474 i. ii i- AND TIMKS <r 

ated. I had a visit to the sea-beach, which to me 
was a most instructive si-'lit. The sea rc-mindi-d me 
of its great Mak* T, who stayeth the proud waves 
thereof; its innumerable productions, the diversified 
features of its shores, the sand-hills, the marshes, 
the palmetto, tall and slender; the sheep and goats 
frisking in the shade, or browsing in the sun ; or the 
eye directed to the waters beholds the rolling por- 
poise, the sea-gulls lifting and letting fall from high 
the clam, which breaking furnishes them with food ; 
the eagle, with hovering wing, watching for his prey ; 
the white sail of the solitary vessel tossed upon the 
distant wave; how interesting a picture do all these 
objects make !" 

His descriptions of the "noble Hudson with its 
Palisades," the " lofty Catskills with their towering 
cliffs," the " beautiful Ohio with its verdant shores," 
the " wild Potomac," the " lovely Shenandoah," the 
" thundering Niagara," the " Natural Bridge, under 
whose arch he longed to preach," the " interminable 
forests" and " broad prairies," all show that he pos- 
sessed a lively and appreciative sense of the beauti- 
ful. To those who looked upon him as cold and sto- 
ical, and destitute of those more tender and endear- 
ing sympathies which constitute the charm of social 
life, let us hear him as he speaks of the death of a 
Christian lady in whose hospitable mansion he often 
found a home : "I was invited to pass a night under 


the hospitable roof of General Thomas Worthington, 
at Mount Prospect Hall. "Within sight of this beau- 
tiful mansion lies the precious dust of Mary Tiffin. 
It was as much as I could do to forbear weeping over 
her speaking grave. How mutely eloquent ! Ah, 
the world knows little of my sorrows little knows 
how dear to me are my many friends, and how 
deeply 1 feel their loss." 

In his Journal we find notices of upward of a 
hundred books which he read, some of which he 
made the subject of severe thought and study. His 
various criticisms of works which came under his 
review, show that he was far from being a superficial 
reader or thinker. We have often been astonished 
at the amount of his reading, and have wondered 
how, in the midst of his numerous and onerous 
engagements, he found time to perform a tithe of 
what he accomplished. He was never, in any sense 
of the word, unemployed, and what is more important, 
was never " trifiingly employed." That the reader 
may see that he was as accurate in his judgment of 
books as he was of men, we subjoin some of his 
criticisms. Of Edwards on the Affections, he says : 
" Excepting the small vein of Calvinism which runs 
through this book, it is a very good treatise, and 
worthy the serious attention of young professors of 
religion." Of Sherlock's Sermons he makes the fol- 
lowing remark : " The author was doubtless a man of 

4*76 ui-'K AND TIMES OF 

great abilities, but it is a pity he had not beeu a 

rvanuvlical writer. I find some good things in his 
wri tin ITS, and otliers in general harmless, but not very 
interesting." After he had finished reading the lives 
QfJInltlnirton, De Renty, and WalsJt, he thus charac- 
terizes them : " One of the Church of Scotland, 
another of the Church of Rome, and the latter a 
Methodist preacher, but the work of God is one in 
all. To set aside a few particulars, how harmonious 
does the work of God appear in men of different 
nations and Churches." Having read two volumes 
of Sermons ~by JBev. Mr. Knox, of the West Indies, 
he says : " I am much pleased with his defense of 
revealed religion. Through the whole work there is 
something sublime and spiritual, so catholic too, 
and free from peculiar doctrines. I esteem him as 
one of the best writers among the Presbyterians I 
have yet met with. ... I approve the spirit and princi- 
ples of the man ; he appears to be of the spirit of Mr. 
M'Gaw ; he gives some favorable hints of restora- 
tion, that natural evil should purge out moral evil ; but 
gives it not as his own opinion, but as that of others. 
In another place he says : ' Perhaps the heathen 
world shall have an after trial ;' if in time, it is true. 
So it sometimes is, that if a man is a rigid Calvinist, 
and turns, he must go quite round ; but general 
redemption and conditional salvation is the plan." 
Concerning a work written by Rev. Silas Mercer, a 


Baptist^ he says : " I have been wonderfully enter- 
tained with it. He has anathematized the whole 
race of kings from Saul to George the Third. He is 
republicanism run mad. Why afraid of religious 
establishments in these days of enlightened liberty ? 
Silas has beaten the pope, who only on certain occa- 
sions, and for certain reasons, absolves subjects from 
allegiance to their sovereigns ; and if the nations of 
Europe believed the sweeping doctrines of Silas, they 
would be right in decapitating every crowned head, 
and destroying every existing form of Church gov- 
ernment. If plunging baptism be the only true 
ordinance, and there can be no true Church without 
it, it is not quite clear that even Christ had a Church 
until the Baptists plunged for it." Comber on Ordi- 
nation elicited the following critique : " Much pomp 
was annexed to the clerical order, though plausible in 
its way. I believe the episcopal mode of ordination 
to be more proper than the presbyterial, or ordination 
by presbyters, but I wish there were primitive quali- 
fications in all who handle sacred things." The Con- 
fession of Faith and the Assembly's Catechism : 
"There are some good and other very strong things 
in it. These books are calculated to convert the 
judgment and make the people systematical Chris- 
tians." Fletcher's Checks: "The style and spirit in 
which Mr. Fletcher writes at once bespeak the 
scholar, the logician, and the divine." Robertson's 

478 i. in: AM> TIMI> 

qf /Sootland : u O what treachery and 

attemk'th courts, and how does court policy, without 
design, give way to a reformation. This has been the 
ca-e in England and Scotland. The fate of the un- 
fortunate Mary Queen of Scots was affecting. The 
admired Queen Elizabeth does not appear to advant- 
age in the Scotch history." Dr. C/<///cr's Appeal 
to the Public : " I think, upon the whole, he is right. 
AVhy may not the Protestant Episcopal Church have 
as much indulgence in America as any other society." 
Potters Church Government : " I have read and 
transcribed portions of this work, but I must prefer 
the episcopal mode of Church government to the 
presbyterian. If the modern bishops were all as 
the ancient ones, all would be right, and there wants 
nothing but the spirit of the thing." Clog get against 
Chubb : " He writes well for a layman, but I suspect 
he would write as much against us whom he terms 
Arminians. Chubb is quite wrong. Clagget is no 
way smooth and entertaining, though he has truth 
and argument on his side." The Valley of Lilies, 
by Thomas a Kempis : This is much in the style of 
his Christian's Pattern, or Imitation of Christ. I 
wonder Mr. ^Yesley has never abridged this work." 
Ilaweis^s Church History : " This is perhaps among 
the best I have seen, but his partiality to good old 
Calvinism is very apparent. I find it is the author's 
opinion that the evangelists were chief superintend- 


ing episcopal men, (ay, so say I,) and that they pre- 
scribed forms of discipline and systematized codes of 
doctrine. After the death of the apostles, it would 
appear that the elders elected the most excellent men 
to superintend. This course was doubtless the most 
expedient and excellent, Every candid inquirer 
after truth will acknowledge, upon reading Church 
history, that it was a great and serious evil when 
philosophy and human learning were taught as a 
preparation for a Gospel ministry." Marshall's Life 
of Washington : " Critics may, for aught I know, 
find fault (especially on the other side of the water) 
with the style and general execution of this work. I 
like both. The early history of the country very 
properly precedes, and is connected with the life of 
the great man who has been so justly styled the 
father of his country,. There is nothing in the work 
beneath the man of honor ; there are no malevolent 
sentiments or bitter expressions derogatory to the 
character of a Christian. The author deserves credit 
for the pains he has taken to furnish authorities and 
authentic records in the notes to his work. If any 
author in America has done better than Marshall, it 
is Belknap, perhaps." Mungo Park's Travels in 
Africa : " Certain parts are so extraordinary that it 
appears like a romance. If true he experienced 
astonishing hardships-. It would seem by this narra- 
tive, that the Africans are in a state so wretched that 

480 LIFK AM) TIM MS (1 

any sulKr-rings with tlic Gospel would be submitted to 
in preference. Hut I have my doubts." Oat* /////,/"* 
r/x/'/.v////// TIiKtJutjij : In Cave's Lives of the Fathei-. 
and in the writings of the ancients, it will appear 
that the Churches of Alexandria and elsewhere had 
large congregations and many elders; that the apos- 
tles might appoint and ordain bishops. Mr. Oster- 
vald, who, it appears, is a candid and well-informed 
man, has gone as far as might be expected for a 
Presbyterian. For myself I see but a hair's breadth 
difference between the sentiments of the respectable 
and learned author of Christian Theology and the 
practice of the Methodist Episcopal Church. There 
is not, nor indeed in my mind can there be a perfect 
equality between a constant president and those over 
whom he always presides." Simpson's Plea for Re- 
ligion : " The author has drawn aside the purple 
curtain of the Church of Rome, and the black robes 
of the autichristian Church of England, to lay bare 
the abuses of bad systems and the vices of mitered 
heads. He has raised his warning voice against the 

o o 

corruption of manners and morals in all orders, which 
will, he predicts, without a speedy reformation, cause 
the downfall of all ecclesiastical establishments. He 
has magnanimously renounced his living as a minis- 
ter, which his conscience would permit him no 
longer to hold. He said he knew not where to go, 
but the Lord has taken him to the i Church of the 


' O what a warning is given to all 
Churches, to all ministers, to all Christians, and to 
thee, O my soul !" Blair's Sermons : " I find some 
very beautiful things in these sermons ; they contain 
good moral philosophy. His sermon on Gentleness is 
worthy the taste of Queen Charlotte, and if money 
were anything toward paying for knowledge, I 
should think that sermon worth two hundred pounds 
sterling, which, some say, the queen gave him." 
Prince's Christian History : This book is Method- 
ism in all its parts. I have a great desire to print an 
abridgment of it to show the apostate children what 
their fathers were." Gordon's History of the? Amer- 
ican Revolution : " Here we view the suffering 
straits of the American army, and what is greatly in- 
teresting, Washington taking his farewell of the 
officers of the American army." Saurin's Sermons : 
" Long, elaborate, learned, doctrinal, practical, his- 
torical, and explanatory." Thomson's Seasons : 
" I find a little wheat and a great deal of chaff. I 
have read great authors, so called, and wondered 
where they found their finery of words and phrases. 
Much of this might be pilfered from the ' Seasons,' 
without injury to the real merit of the work ; and 
doubtless it has been plucked by literary robbers." 
Wesley's Journal : "I am now convinced of the 
great difficulty of journalizing. Mr. Wesley was 

doubtless a man of very general knowledge, learning, 



and reading, to which we mav add a lively wit and 

O ' * * 

humor : yet I think I sec too much credulity, lonir, 
flat narrations and coarse letters taken from other-. 
in his Journal; hut when I come to his own thoughts 
they arc lively, sentimental, interesting, and in- 
structing. The journal of a minister of the Gospel 
should be theological, only it will be well to wink 
at many things we see and hear, since men's feel- 
ings grow more and r. ore refined." 

Besides his reading.;, Asbury's sketches or skeletons 
of sermons, if collected together, would make a vol- 
ume of rare value for their exegetical and practical 
character. Above all the books for reading and 
study, the Bible, which he read in the original lan- 
guages, occupied the highest place ; and no day, 
when his health would permit, was suffered to pass 
without its thorough and systematic study. This was 
the great armory from whence he drew the weapons 
of his warfare, and in the successful wielding of 
which he was enabled to demolish the strongholds of 


the adversary. Following in the footsteps of Wesley, 
he urged upon the preachers the importance of 
study ; and many, from his own example, who, when 
they entered the itinerancy, were utterly deficient in 
education, not only made themselves acquainted with 
their own Ian ornate and literature, but made them- 

O O 7 

selves acquainted with the classics of Greece and 
Rome, as well as the literature of Palestine. All 


honor to those self-made men who, without a college, 
and almost without a salary, pushed their way to the 
cabins of the wilderness, and in the midst of all their 
toils and embarrassments worked their way into the 
domain of letters. 

The secret of Asbury's success as a student con- 
sisted in his rigid adherence to a systematic method ; 
and it is rarely if ever that any one excels who does 
not adopt and adhere to a systematic course of study. 
Discipline is everything to body and mind, and the 
most insurmountable difficulties are overcome by 
patient perseverance. To labor and to wait may be 
a difficult task for the impulsive and ambitious to 
learn ; but there is no royal road, no patent-righted, 
labor-saving way to profound attainment in any de- 
partment of learning. His method, when not trav- 
eling, was to rise at four o'clock every morning; 
spend two hours in prayer and meditation, two hours 
in reading and study, and one in recreation and con- 
versation. Ten hours out of sixteen were spent in 
reading the Hebrew Bible and other books, and wri- 
ting. He retired to his room at eight o'clock when 

O O 

not at meeting or in council, and spent an hour in 
meditation and prayer before retiring to rest. 

Being obliged, for the most part, to depend 
for a library on the resources of his saddle-bags, 
which consisted of his Hebrew Bible, Greek Testa- 
ment, Book of Discipline, and a few other books, 

484 L1FK AND TIMF.S (>K 

his preparations for the pulpit were not drawn 
from commentaries, sketches, and pulpit assistant-, 
but from original sources. Heading his text in the 
>ri ^inal, and thus going to the very fountain of in- 
spiration, he was enabled to bring out of this rich 
and inexhaustible treasury things if not novel at 
least constructed after the model of the Holy Scrip- 
tures. His sermons were mostly of a textual, and 
rarely, like many discourses of the present day, of a 
topical character, and which stand frequently as 
nearly related to one passage of Scripture as another. 

Examining the numerous sketches of his sermons 
given in his Journal, we are struck with the natural- 
ness of his divisions of the subject-matter of the texts; 
and those who have heard him preach assure us that 
he followed the advice of the Discipline, which he 
administered to the letter, in " always making out 
what he took in hand," " always suiting his subject 
to his audience, and choosing the plainest texts." 
In fact, " to convince, to offer Christ, to invite, and 
to build up " were prominent points, rarely, if ever, 
lost sight of in his discourses. In this respect he 
was a model preacher. 

We cannot close this chapter without calling the 
attention of the reader to two more features in con- 
nection with the literary attainments of Asbury. It 
is conceded pretty generally by .those who were 
competent to give information on this subject, that 


most of the obituaries found in the older Minutes of 
the Conferences were from his pen. As biographical 
sketches they are models of excellence. In these we 
iind no attempt at eulogy or elaboration. The strong 
points in the character of each were seized and de- 
lineated with a master hand. "We have presented in 
the early part of our book a few of these as speci- 
mens of what we conceive to be a rare biographi- 
cal style. 

The other remarkable quality in the literary char- 
acter of Asbury which is worthy of notice, is his 
admirable epistolary style. His correspondence was 
voluminous, and his letters possess an interest beyond 
their personal value, in the vast amount of informa- 
tion they contain on matters not only pertaining to 
the Church and her interests, but to the country at 
large. His numerous letters to Thomas Morrell, who 
was stationed at John-street Church, and which 
w r ere published several years since in the Christian 
Advocate and Journal, are full of interesting facts 
and incidents pertaining to the current history of 



His last Round Unceasing Toil The ruling Passion Entry in his 
Journal Journey through North and South Carolina Arrival at 
Richmond, Virginia Dissuaded from Preaching Determined to 
preach once more Is carried into the Church Beautiful Morning 
His Text on the Occasion His Audience An impressive Scene 
Close of the Discourse Anxiety to reach Baltimore Farewell Ar- 
rives at the Residence of his old Friend, Mr. George Arnold Illness 
increased Unable to proceed further His Sufferings Sabbath 
Family called together for Religious Service Bond, his traveling Com- 
panion, reads and expounds the Scriptures Conclusion of Services 
While sitting in his Chair the Spirit of Asbury passed away His 
Funeral Burial Request of the Citizens of Baltimore made to the 
General Conference His Remains removed to Eutaw->tret.-t Church 
Vast Procession Funeral Oration pronounced by Bishop M'Kendree 
Epitaph Resolutions of the Baltimore Conference in 1856 in relation 
to the Erection of a Monument in Mount Olivet Cemetery Reflections. 

THE veteran pioneer had taken his last round and 
had attended his last Conference. Forty-five years 
of incessant toil in cities and villages, and in the 
log-cabins and wildernesses of the far West and 
South, traveling round the continent with but few 
exceptions every year, subject to every kind of itin- 
erant hardship and privation, bore heavily upon his 
physical constitution, and we find him, as if impelled 
by a ruling passion strong as life, and undismayed by 
the approach of death, urging his weary way from 
appointment to appointment. He needed rest and 
relief from all cares and anxieties, but like one who 


was determined to rest not until the grave should 
unveil its bosom to receive him, he continued to 
travel and preach. When he could no longer walk 
to the house of God, he was borne in the arms of his 
brethren : and when he could no longer stand in the 

7 C 

holy place to deliver his dying message to the assem- 
bled flocks over which he had been a faithful and 
affectionate overseer for upward of forty years, he 
sat, as the beloved of the Apocalypse, and poured 
out the treasures of his loving, overflowing heart to 
the weeping multitudes, who sorrowed most at the 
thought " that they should see his face no more." In 
the midst of his last labors he says in his Journal : 
" I die daily, am made perfect by labor and suffering, 
and fill up still what is behind. There is no time or 
opportunity to take medicine in the day-time, I must 
do it at night. I am wasting away." 

By slow and difficult stages he passed with his 
faithful Bond through South and North Carolina, 
preaching at different points until he reached Rich- 
mond, Virginia. His anxiety to preach once more 
in Richmond was so great, that notwithstanding the 
entreaties and endeavors of his friends to dissuade 
him therefrom, seeing his extreme debility, he over- 
came all their efforts, saying, " I must once more de- 
liver my public testimony in this place. When the 
hour for preaching arrived he was taken in a close 
carriage to the Old Methodist Church. On arriving 


he was Ionic in the arms of his friends into the 
church and placed upon a table prepared for the 
purpose, wlu-reoii he was seated. The "Old Church," 
whose walls had so often echoed to his voice, was 
crowded to its utmost capacity. 

It was a bright and beautiful Sabbath of spring 
in the year 1816. Nature, which in the South at a 
more early season puts on her flowery robe and 
decks herself in garlands of beauty, on this morning 
wore her most smiling aspect. The air was freighted 
with the perfume of bright spring flowers, and earth 
and sky conjoined to make the Sabbath a delight. 
But that day, so full of joyousness and hope, like the 
aged messenger of God who saw its opening glories, 
was destined, like himself, to pass away. How befit- 
ting the language of the poet : 

" Sweet day, so calm, so bright, 

Bridal of earth and sky, 
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night, 

For thou, alas ! must die." 

After singing, reading the Scriptures, and prayer, 
the bishop announced, in tremulous tones, his text : 
" For he will finish the work and cut it short in 
righteousness : because a short work will the Lord 
make upon the earth." Impressed with the con- 
sciousness that his work was done, and that he 
was like one who was waiting for the voice of the 



bride-groom, the text was well chosen. Before and 
around him were his brethren and friends of former 
years. With tearful eyes and throbbing hearts they 
were listening to the last sermon of their beloved 
father in God. Slowly and measuredly the solemn 
truths fell from his trembling lips. Carried away 
by his feelings he exceeded his strength, and was 
obliged to pause frequently from sheer exhaustion. 
Feeble as he was he preached for nearly an hour, 
during which time a deep and awful stillness per- 
vaded the entire assembly, only broken by the sobs 
of sympathetic hearers. To the vast audience gath- 
ered on this occasion the scene before them must 
have been sublimely impressive. For the last time 
they were listening to the voice of their beloved 
bishop, who had gone in and out before them in 
his continental visits for so many years. When he 
closed his discourse he was much exhausted, and 
was borne back to his carriage and taken to his 

Almost any other person would have desisted 
from traveling in such an ill state of health, but the 
spirit of Asbury could brook no delay ; besides, he 
was particularly anxious to reach Baltimore to be 
present at the session of the General Conference in 
May. Accordingly, taking his last farewell of the 
brethren and friends in Richmond, he proceeded 
on his journey in the care of his ever-faithful 


Having .arrived at tlie residence of his old 
and long-tried friend, Mr. George Arnold, about 
twenty miles south of Fredericksburg, in Virginia, 
his illness increased so that he was unable to 

On the evening of the twenty-ninth of March his 
carriage stopped at the door of this his last earthly 
resting-place, and he was borne into the house never 
more to leave it until his worn and weary body 
should be carried to the tomb. He suffered much 
during the night and the succeeding day, notwith- 
standing everything was done that affection could do 
to mitigate his distress. When sabbath came he 
requested the family to be called together at the 
usual hour for religious services. His traveling com- 

o o 

panion read and expounded the twenty-first chapter 
of Revelation, during which time Asbury was calm 
and devotional. His end was near, and his faith 
doubtless enabled him to catch a glimpse of the holy 
city which John saw coming down out of heaven, 
and to hear the voice assuring him that God would 
wipe away the tears from sorrow's weeping eye. 
The sun of his life was declining, but there were no 
clouds in the evening heavens. All was calm, and 
clear, and bright. 

The services were closed, and Bond, perceiving 
that the venerable bishop was sinking in his chair, 
hastened to support him ; and while he held up his 


reclining head, the spirit of the patriarch passed 
away in peace to its God, and thus, 

"Like some broad river widening t'ward the sea, 
Calmly and grandly life join'd eternity." 

His funeral was attended by a large assemblage 
of citizens from the surrounding neighborhood, 
and with appropriate religious services his body 
was deposited in the family burying-ground of 
Mr. Arnold. 

At the session of the General Conference a request 
was presented by the people of Baltimore, that his 
remains be removed, and deposited in a vault pre- 
pared for that purpose in the Eutaw Church, immedi- 
ately beneath the pulpit. The occasion of the re- 
interment was one of thrilling interest, not only to 
the members of the General Conference, but to the 
inhabitants of the entire city. An immense con- 
course assembled at the Light-street Church, from 
whence his remains were taken to the Eutaw 
Church. At the head of the vast procession was 
Bishop M'Kendree, the colleague of the departed 
Asbury, and the only surviving bishop of the 
Church. Next followed the members of the Gen- 
eral Conference ; and lastly the members of the 
Church and citizens in thousands. Amid the tears 
of the multitude, M'Kendree pronounced the funeral 
address; and with the solemn and impressive cere- 


monies connected with the burial service, the sacred 
relics were deposited in their resting-place. Over 
the vault the following epitaph was inscribed : 

J5am& 10 tin 



He was born in England, August 20, 1745; 
Entered the Ministry at the age of seventeen ; 

Came a Missionary to America 1771; 

"Was ordained Bishop in this city December 27, 1784 ; 

Annually visited the Conferences in the United States ; 

With much zeal continued to "preach the word" 

For more than half a century ; 

Literally ended his labors with his life, 

N'ear Fredericksburg, Virginia, 
In the full triumph of faith, on the 31st of March, 1816, 

Aged 70 years, 7 months, and 11 days. 

His remains were deposited in this vault May 10, 1816, 

By the General Conference then sitting in this city. 

His journals will exhibit to posterity 

His labors, his difficulties, his sufferings, 

His patience, his perseverance, his love to God and man. 

In March, 1856, the Baltimore Conference passed 
the following resolutions : 

" Itesotoed, That we highly appreciate the inten- 
tion of the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal 


Church in the city and precincts of Baltimore, to 
erect a monument which may designate to future 
generations the burial-place of the venerable ASBUEY, 
and also record the gratitude of the Church for the 
blessings which have resulted from the labors of that 
faithful servant of Christ, to whom, under God, 
American Methodism is so deeply indebted for her 
wonderful progress and prosperity. 

Besolwed, That we present this subject to our vari- 
ous congregations as soon after we reach our several 
appointments as may be convenient, and that we 
request the donations of those of the members and 
friends of our Church who may feel disposed to con- 
tribute to this memorial." 

The trustees of Mount Olivet Cemetery having 
selected and contributed a site for this monument, 
the resolutions were designed to carry out their be- 
nevolent undertaking, and it is presumed that ere 
long a monument worthy of the Pioneer Bishop will 
be erected by the Baltimore Methodists, to "desig- 
nate to future generations the burial-place of the 
venerable Asbury." 

The reader has seen in the preceding pages that the 
life of Asbury was one of continued incident, from 
his youth through all the period of his laborious and 
useful career. What the London " Athenaeum " says 
of the tireless itinerant, Wesley, in Great Britain 
that if" under the horsehoof of Attila the grass never 


grew, so the grass never grew under the tread of John 
Wesley ' : -may with equal propriety be affirmed of 
the indefatigable Francis Asbury in America. 

Well did Methodism find its way into the States. 
It had no ruffles or lawn that it feared to soil, no 
powdered locks that it feared to disorder, no buckles 
it was afraid to tarnish. It lodged roughly and 
fared scantily. It tramped up muddy ridges, it 
swam or forded rivers to the waist, it slept on 
leaves or raw deer skin, or pillowed its head 
on saddle bags, it bivouacked among wolves or 
Indians ; now it suffered from ticks or mosquitoes ; it 
was attacked by dogs, it was hooted and it was 
pelted ; the hurricane blew down trees across its path ; 
it lost its way in the woods, it was stricken by fever 
and wasted by pestilence, it was fined, maltreated 
and imprisoned, but it throve. Through the ample 
woods of the West, taking long windings to avoid 
the swamps, skulking out of sight of Indians, follow- 
ing by the dim light of some backwoodsman's blaze, 
drifting along great silent rivers to some poor settler's 
hut, giving even the shirt off its back, worn, weary, 
rain-drenched, yet pursuing its noble mission, and 
making footpaths for love and fondness, Methodism 
went on till it had crossed the frontier of states. The 
only distinction of its bishops was one of bodily toil 
or personal labor. They traversed six thousand miles 
a year through a country that had no inns, no roads, 


where they and their horses, when they had any, were 
hungry and shelterless. If they wanted a dinner 
they had to hunt it, and then cook it by a fire that 
would not blaze, and the rain and wind often put it 
out. It was a feast clay when they dined on raccoon 
or bear steaks, and jolted on a road full of ruts in a 
forty-dollar chaise. Perhaps even Methodism would 
not do ill to recall the history of some of those early 
pioneers. Methodism is now a power in the States. 
Its loyalty is no longer called in question, as at the 
time of the Declaration of Independence. AVest and 
South it is paramount. 

Foremost in that band of tireless itinerants was 
Francis Asbury. the pioneer bishop of the Meth- 
odist Church in America. Always and everywhere 
with harness on ready for the spiritual warfare, 
he may be said almost to have created the Church 
in its present form, and during his long and 
active life kept all its departments in motion. He 
ordained upward of three thousand preachers, and 
preached seventeen thousand sermons, besides attend- 
ing to the varied and multitudinous duties connected,/ 
with his peculiar relation to the Church and his epis- 
copal office. Though dead he yet lives in the affec- 
tions of the great Methodist public, North and South, 
numbering upward of a million. So effectually has 
he stamped his powerful mind upon the masses of 
Methodism all over this vast continent, from the hills 


of the Aroostook to the slopes of the Pacific, that no 
time or change can efface the impression. What the 
name of Washington is to the patriot American 
a charm and a watchword in whatever pertains to 
American liberty, the name of Asbury is to the 
American Methodist in whatever concerns the 
genius and mission of Methodism.